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(TRENTON) — Legislation Assemblyman John Burzichelli sponsored to direct the State Commission of Investigation to look into the finances and operations of the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association was advanced Thursday by an Assembly panel.

Burzichelli was the sponsor of a 2007 law that recently took effect that bars the NJSIAA from charging more for playoff tickets than it did for tickets during the regular season. The bill (ACR-116) comes after the NJSIAA initially ignored the new law, until it was directed by acting Education Commissioner Bret Schundler to follow it.

“Neither I nor New Jersey taxpayers want to hear cries of poverty and threats to scale back events from a group that pays six figure salaries and grants generous benefits to multiple executives,” said Burzichelli (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem). “The NJSIAA had three years to get ready for this new law but did nothing but continue excessive spending. It’s time somebody took an in-depth look at their finances and operations. I’m confident the SCI will do just that.”

Burzichelli recently sent a letter to the NJSIAA executive director, Steven J. Timko. In the letter, Burzichelli noted the NJSIAA’s 2009 financial report “indicates you made little effort to achieve significant efficiencies in either your administrative operation or your approach to playoff site management.”

He noted the group during a three-year period:

  • Increased school membership fees from $850 to $2,150, generating a $549,275 increase in revenues per year;
  • Gave raises to NJSIAA directors and employees in the 4 and 5 percent range;
  • Collected entry fees from teams totaling $947,205 in 2009; and
  • Kept ticket prices inflated to generate $1,051,859 in playoff event profits last year alone.

“This, coupled with a generous deferred benefit payment to each of your six directors, is hardly the good faith effort for operational reform we anticipated you would engage in when the Legislature provided the three-year enactment date,” Burzichelli wrote. “Now just as government and school districts across New Jersey are cutting budgets and doing more with less, you must do the same. Your organization is neither immune nor privileged.”

The resolution was released by the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee chaired by Burzichelli.

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