Officials’ pay for local schools contains a number of variables 

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High-school officials’ fees are among the lowest among nearby states, according to Riverdale Ridge athletic director Aaron Reisen.

The pay scale depends on the level of game (junior varsity vs. varsity) and how many officials are assigned to work. In baseball and basketball, each member of a two- or three-person crew earns $63.67 per game, about $1.20 more than 2022. In field hockey, the fee is $59.43 per official, an increase of about $1.20. In volleyball, the fee is $52 for each of the two varsity-level officials (an increase of a bit more than a dollar from last year) and $39.80 per official for a junior-varsity or “C” team match, which represents an increase of 68 cents.

By comparison, Texas high-school football officials were paid, at minimum, $105 to $135 per game this season. Baseball umpires there will earn between $85 and $125 per game this coming season, depending on regular-season and playoff assignments, plus mileage. In Colorado, the travel stipend increased to $10 per game this year.

According to retired CHSAA umpire Dan Weikle, who worked state-level playoff games during many of his 46 years as a certified baseball official, the pay for an umpire in 1964 was $10 per game.

“If you extrapolate that out, that’s $88 today,” he said a year ago. “We get paid $62. The pay hasn’t kept up with inflation. In 1975, when I started, the pay was $25 ($118 in today’s dollars).”

“We are pretty far behind our surrounding states on the amount we pay officials per game,” Reisen said. “I know it really impacts our schools close to the state border.  Those officials can make significantly more money to drive a few miles into another state. I do not recall the exact ranking, but we are close to last out of all the states in officials’ pay.” 

Finding officials and finding money in school budgets

Area schools’ costs to find game officials depend on the school.  At Brighton High School, athletic director Dave Smith said his budget allows for a $10,000 yearly payment to Aurora Sports Officials which, in turn, takes care of assigning officials.

At Riverdale Ridge, Reisen pays Northern Colorado Sports Officials a fee to assign the games. A second bill comes for individual game fees per official, including mileage.  At Northglenn, Athletic Director Melissa Sivernell said fees depend on the level of game and the sport. All of the fees she cited were for each contest. 

As an example, she paid $40 to $52 for volleyball officials and between $2 and $10 for travel. For softball, the range was $44 to $58, plus travel. In football, the cost was $44 to $60 plus travel.

At Prairie View High School the fee for fall 2021 was almost $8,900. This fall, the payout was a bit more than $8,100 through mid-October with another $500 to $700 left to be paid, according to the school.

Two charter schools in the area pay sums, though somewhat smaller because of the number of available sports programs, for their game officials.

“We will spend in excess of $20,000 for officials for our middle-school and high-school sports this school year,” said Athletic Director Dave Logan.

Eagle Ridge Academy in Brighton does not have a middle-school program.

“Last year (2021-2022), I paid a total of $6,428.16,” said Eagle Ridge Athletic Director Zach Henning. “I know this will stay the same this year. However, next year, when the soccer field is completed, this number will rise.” The Warriors broke ground on the field this fall. It’s expected to be ready for use in time for the girls soccer season this spring.

One more solution?

Brighton’s Dave Smith said CHSAA is beginning to ask athletic directors if they’d be interested in officiating games. But, if a class 5A athletic director wanted to be a game official, he/she could not work a game involving a class 5A school.

Referee shortage, officials' fees, Aurora Sports Officials, pay rate, Colorado Sports Officials

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