(TRENTON) – Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem), author of legislation to control tickets prices at New Jersey high school sporting events, released the following statement Wednesday on the State Commission of Investigation report that found numerous spending and ethics abuses at the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association.
Burzichelli asked for the report after the NJSIAA attempted to increase ticket prices despite the law he sponsored restricting their ability to do so:
“The NJSIAA’s nonstop attempts to raise ticket prices never made much sense, but it finally all adds up. Based on these findings, it’s clear it desperately needed to raise ticket prices just to keep pace with a lavish lifestyle largely funded by taxpayers.
“The NJSIAA exists to oversee New Jersey high school sports and help student athletes, but it’s obviously lost sight of that mission.
“A $549,000 payout to a departing administrator, including $97,000 in unused sick and vacation time. Casino hotel room bookings. Prime rib, shrimp scampi, filet mignon and catered buffets. Personal cars combined with gas mileage reimbursements. Questionable sponsorships. These luxuries have nothing to do with high school sports yet according to this report are commonplace at this agency.
“Throw in lax record keeping and safeguards, a shockingly casual attitude toward money and disregard for its very own policies and procedures and things just get worse.
“It’s important to note that 75 percent of the NJSIAA budget comes from public Dests, mainly school membership fees funded by property taxes.
“Quite simply, it’s wasteful spending like this that drives taxpayers nuts. It’s time it came to an end.
“The SCI should be commended for a thorough investigation that shows the NJSIAA has long shunned fiscal responsibility and made exorbitant perks, payouts and benefits its way of life.
“We’ve tried to work with the association for years now to clean up its operations, to no avail. Clearly, this group is uninterested in reforming itself and making affordable student athletics its one and only priority.
“The time has come to look elsewhere and find another group that can independently operate high school athletics without trying over and over again to sting taxpayers with increased prices to fund a luxurious lifestyle.
“I am putting the finishing touches on legislation to accomplish that goal and will have more to announce in the coming weeks.”