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(TRENTON) – Legislation Assemblyman John Burzichelli and Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney sponsored to direct the State Commission of Investigation to look into the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association received final legislative approval on Thursday.

The Senate voted 32-3 to approve the bill. It was approved in 70-7 by the Assembly in March. As a legislative resolution, it doesn’t require gubernatorial approval. 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 resolution approved on Thursday (ACR-116/SCR-88) comes after the NJSIAA initially ignored the new law, until it was directed by Education Commissioner Bret Schundler to follow it. Burzichelli said the inquiry is even more important after the NJSIAA recently approved asking school districts to increase regular season ticket prices so it could charge higher prices for playoff tickets.

Burzichelli sent letters to the NJSIAA asking it to cease its effort to increase tickets prices and to Schundler asking him to notify schools to disregard the NJSIAA effort.

“The NJSIAA unbelievably continues to wrongly rely on increasing ticket prices to pay for its still-bloated salaries and benefits,” Burzichelli said. “That is unacceptable. The NJSIAA continuously fails to get the point and seemingly won’t stop until it finds some way to jack up prices on hard-working New Jersey families.”

Burzichelli thanked Sweeney for his support.

“Just as our high school athletes demand fairness on the playing field, we must demand the same from the NJSIAA off it,” said Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem). “The NJSIAA’s business practices have raised very serious questions as to whether it is operating to the benefit of the state’s student-athletes or its own leadership. This is an investigation that is not only perfectly suited for the SCI but is long overdue.”

Burzichelli earlier this year sent a letter to the NJSIAA executive director, Steven J. Timko. In the letter, Burzichelli 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.

“Neither I nor New Jersey taxpayers want to hear cries of poverty and threats to scale back programs 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.”

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