By: Todd Abraham, NISOA Past President and Senior Director of Instruction
There have been a number of questions about the relationship with Arbiter this season and its implications as to the value of a NISOA membership. Let me provide some facts / history to put things in perspective.
When we started with Arbiter in 2011 they charged us $22 per member across the board – about $120,000. This was a major expenditure for our organization and we debated long and hard about how to fund it. At that time we agreed that at this rate, the value to our membership required that we find the money in our budget and the leadership was committed to minimize the individual impact.
Additionally, we had agreed at that time to modest increases over the life of the contract which brought the total cost up to $150,000 for the last 2 years. ArbiterSports wanted to charge us $65 per member this year – which would have been about $350,000 – we simply couldn’t afford it and more importantly, didn’t think it provided that level of value to the membership as a whole.
We needed some of Arbiter services which we paid for “a la carte” and paid for the National Referee registration which cost us about $65,000 in total this past year.
When we were funding Arbiter at the $120,000 – $150,000 level, we were using a surplus that had been developed over the long NISOA history and had reduced our training expense by almost 30% to cover Arbiter without a significant dues increase. We have not increased dues for a significant period in our recent history even in the face of increased expenses – office supplies, printing costs, web hosting, etc. have all increased in cost. We simply “tightened our belt” and absorbed the additional Arbiter expense.
We were able to forgo a dues increase this year by the reduced Arbiter expense. Had we fully funded Arbiter, we would have had to raise the dues by about $40 per person for all referees even though less than 20% take full advantage of the post season opportunities. Additionally, we have other expenses that needed to be covered associated with an expanded training program (local chapter thumb drives as an example) and better financial oversight (hiring an auditing / accounting firm).
I know the question behind the question is that NISOA used to cover these fees and now they don’t so why aren’t my dues reduced. Frankly, had we increased dues in parallel with the increased costs and expenses over the past five years, we would have had that option. Instead, we held dues steady and had a deficit budget (which reflected our poor financial management, now corrected with external oversight). We’ve spent down our surplus and are now running a balanced budget. We will continue to look for opportunities to streamline our spending, but no one should expect a dues rebate or reduction.
The overarching question about NISOA’s value remains the training, insurance, material development provided by NISOA which reflect the unique instruction required for the collegiate game. The NCAA recognizes the value a NISOA training program brings to national consistency and a reflection of the NCAA values. The current set-up truly provides the best value since referees only pay for post-season consideration, if they truly need it.
I hope this provides some perspective on the history and current status of the ArbiterSports relationship and the value NISOA brings to its membership