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(TRENTON) – Assemblyman John Burzichelli on Thursday attacked on two fronts the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s effort to increase regular season ticket prices on New Jersey families and high school sports fans.

Burzichelli (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem) sent a letter to the NJSIAA asking it to immediately cease its efforts to increase regular season ticket prices. He called the resolution the NJSIAA approved at its Wednesday meeting asking state public schools to increase their ticket prices “unacceptable and inappropriate.”

Burzichelli also sent a letter to Education Commissioner Bret Schundler asking him to notify New Jersey public schools to disregard the NJSIAA’s request that it increase ticket prices.

“Clearly, the NJSIAA made this request so it could continue to avoid taking the necessary steps to curtail its spending, but it also has no standing to deliver such a request to New Jersey’s public schools,” Burzichelli wrote to Schundler.

Burzichelli sponsored a 2007 law that took effect on Jan. 29. Under the law, the NJSIAA is allowed to increase ticket prices during playoff matches only if the games are played in a venue outside a high school stadium with the authority of the Commissioner of Education, but the group still increased tickets prices for wrestling tournaments held in high school facilities until Burzichelli protested and Schundler ordered them to stop.

Burzichelli first drafted the law in late 2004, following complaints from high school football fans outraged that tickets for NJSIAA playoff contests in South Jersey cost more than double what some schools charged for regular season admission.

“Your request to the conferences to raise their tickets prices so the NJSIAA could benefit is yet another example that your agency fails to understand that charging hard-working New Jersey families more money cannot be a means to pay your high salaries and generous benefits,” Burzichelli wrote to Steven J. Timko, the NJSIAA executive director.

Burzichelli said he remained hopeful the NJSIAA would change its ways, but noted his confidence was waning.

“I’d like to remain optimistic that you have the ability to adapt and change with the times, ensuring your fiscal viability and continuing the good works of the organization without again burdening New Jersey’s families, but your actions is making that optimism difficult to sustain,” he wrote to Timko.

Burzichelli has asked the State Commission of Investigation to look into the NJSIAA’s finances and operations. A resolution calling for the inquiry passed the Assembly in March and was set to be considered later Thursday by a Senate committee.

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