The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

MHSA and Booster Clubs: rules have changed


August 14, 2019

The Montana High School Association (MHSA) is the governing body for all high school athletics, music and speech and drama in Montana. It sets rules in regards to participation eligibility, coaching expectations, contest administration and many other aspects of competition regulation.

One of these areas that has come under increased scrutiny in the last several years is the rules governing how booster clubs are allowed to support athletes and their programs. According to the Fundamentals of MHSA Athletic Regulations, “Boosters and booster clubs play an important role in high school activities programs. That role continues to expand, and the MHSA encourages the involvement of local communities” (source: MHSA).

While the MHSA encourages the participation of booster clubs to support athletic programs, there are two fundamental pieces of legislation that drive regulations that dictate how funds can be allotted to athletic programs; Title IX and the Ridgeway Settlement. Title IX states that “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance”. The Rideway Settlement Agreement (RSA) is “the result of federal case law involving the MHSA and all its member schools. The RSA addresses significant issues in achieving and maintaining gender equality” (source: MHSA).

As a result of this legislation, the MHSA has developed the “Award Rule”, which states that “No award exceeding one hundred dollars ($100.00) in value

shall be given per event in any MHSA sanctioned sport or in any MHSA sanctioned interscholastic activity by a member school, by any person or by an organization to a student in recognition of that student’s achievement or participation in any interscholastic activity. An event is defined as a sports camp, an invitational tournament/meet, a post-season recognition function (i.e. sports banquet), or a fundraiser or similar function. Special awareness functions (i.e. pink week) are included as defined events with the following limitation: merchandise retained by students in conjunction with awareness events is restricted to disposable items such as basic t-shirts, socks, headbands/wristbands and similar items. Cash cannot be awarded. A single Association Contest is not considered an “event” for the purpose of this rule” (source: MHSA handbook).

This rules affects our booster club in two important areas in which financial support had been given in the past. It restricts the funding of items such as warm-up shirts, which are kept at the end of the season by athletes, and the payment of athletes’ meals. MHSA does allow for booster clubs to “fund training apparel for practice, that will be fully depreciated and have no intrinsic value at the end of the season. This includes items such as practice shirts, shorts, spandex, tights and socks” (source: MHSA handbook). As a result, the Big Sandy Booster Club has adopted a policy to provide practice items for athletes in place of financial support for personalized shooting shirts or warm-ups.

In regards to financial support for meals, booster clubs may only provide funding for meals directly to the school district and only if the school has a written policy stating that the district will fund a meal during the post-season. Currently, Big Sandy High School has no written policy regarding meal support during post-season play. In an effort to continue this support for our athletes and students involved in extra-curricular activities (such as FFA, music and science), the development of a new policy will be explored.

The Big Sandy Booster Club met August 6th to discuss ways to support athletic and extracurricular programs within the confines of MHSA regulations. The club voted to approve the purchase of 1,080 square feet of rubber mat surface for the annex. This will improve the appearance of the annex floor, while protecting the existing floor and providing for a safer workout space for our athletes and community members. The club also approved the purchase of practice shirts, a new ball cart, 10 new volleyballs and elastic workout bands for the volleyball team. This purchase is equitable to last year’s purchase of travel bags for the football team. The club also approved the purchase of fans for the weight room, a total hip weight machine and speakers for the football field.

The annual Booster Club kickoff will be held August 27th at 6:00 p.m. Please come support our fall athletes!


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