High School Sports


MHSA distributes more than $500,000 to member schools from winter sports postseason profits

State wrestling championship matches
Posted at 4:59 PM, May 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-15 18:59:02-04

MISSOULA — The 2024 high school basketball, swimming and wrestling postseason tournaments profited more than $500,000, according to Montana High School Association records obtained by MTN Sports.

All of the money, which is earned from ticket sales at postseason events, is distributed back to member schools.

According to the financial records, the combined Class B boys and girls basketball tournaments in Billings generated the largest gross income ($195,567) and total profit ($107,807.80) of all the tournaments. The Class B state tournaments were played at First Interstate Arena at MetraPark, which also hosted the tournaments that grossed the second- and third-highest incomes: the Southern B divisional tournament at $175,908 and the Eastern A divisional tournament at $133,977.

First Interstate Arena is also the most expensive host site for postseason basketball, with records showing facilities and administrative fees totaling $22,395.26 for the State B tournaments, $40.911.53 for the Eastern A divisional tournaments and $78,843.74 for the Southern B divisional tournaments.

Facilities and administrative expenses include costs for trainers, tournament managers, ticket takers and other personnel as well as ticket-printing costs, signage and other equipment like bracket boards and nets. Referees and team expenses (mileage and per diem) are calculated in separate columns.

The records show all four combined state basketball tournaments turned a profit in 2024. The Class AA tournaments generated a profit of $79,114.33, followed by the Class C tournaments at $52,316.78 and the Class A tournaments at $43,337.71.

The Class AA profits were distributed equally to all 16 schools in the classification — $4,944.65 to each school.

Profits from the Class A, B and C state tournaments are distributed among the schools that qualify for the tournaments — $2,708.61 in Class A, $6,737.99 in Class B and $3,275.05 in Class C in 2024.

The Eastern AA ($8,760.94) and Western AA ($174.90) divisional tournaments also recorded profits, per the reported data, as did the Northern B boys divisional tournament ($5,958.70) and the combined Northern C divisional tournaments ($21,086.69).

All other divisional tournaments lost money, and only two district tournaments — District 3B at Colstrip and District 4C at Miles City — finished in the black.

Additionally, the financial reports reveal all seven postseason wrestling tournaments resulted in a profit for the member schools. The all-class state tournaments at Billings’ First Interstate Arena grossed $129,799 and netted $77,210.73 after expenses. Expenses broke down to $11,742 in administrative fees, $18,600 for the facility and $22,246.27 for officials.

Profits for the seeding and divisional tournaments ranged from $1,229.94 at the Western B-C divisional tournament to $4,692.75 at the Eastern AA seeding tournament.

The data also show the state swim meet grossed $10,256 in ticket sales. After facility and administrative expenses, $7,973.36 went back to the schools.

According to an MHSA memo sent to member schools, most of the MHSA’s operating funds come from dues schools pay to participate in sanctioned activities. Once expenses are paid and schools participating in postseason events are reimbursed for mileage and per diem, the remaining profit is distributed among member schools.

The memo states that the MHSA returns “roughly $1.4 million to member schools through this disbursement of postseason revenues.”