WPIAL notebook: League won’t face financial loss from winter sports

Monday, March 15, 2021 | 5:13 PM

The WPIAL lost around $28,000 by holding its swimming championships with no spectators, but the league expects to break even once all winter sport revenues are counted.

“There won’t be a financial windfall and there won’t be a financial deficit,” WPIAL executive director Amy Scheuneman told the WPIAL board Monday. “It was a positive outcome, allowing the championships to happen, to happen well and to not put the league in financial concern.”

Scheuneman noted that championship events for some sports cost more to hold than others. However, the combination of ticket sales, T-shirt orders and broadcasting revenues were likely to push the WPIAL’s budget into the black.

The final count for income and expenses wasn’t yet available, but there was reason for optimism. The spirit championships, for example, brought in between $3,000 and $4,000 in profit, Scheuneman said.

The basketball tournament also was expected to be profitable. The finals were held at high school gyms, which reduced the WPIAL’s cost.

“We knew we weren’t going to make money off of this season at all,” she said. “Our goal was to break even or be slightly ahead and not lose money on the total operations of winter sports. I’m happy from that standard that we will be able to cover costs by my estimations.”

The pandemic caused financial concerns for the WPIAL in large part because the league was restricted in the number of tickets it could sell. Postseason ticket sales account for a large part of the WPIAL’s annual budget.

The WPIAL championships faced gathering-size restrictions imposed statewide by Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration. Indoor events were limited to 15% of capacity.

Those restrictions prevented the WPIAL from allowing any spectators into the building for the swimming championships March 6-7 at Upper St. Clair. That event, with no ticket sales, was the largest hit to the winter budget.

“We knew the cost was going to be that way,” Scheuneman said. “We operate (swimming championships) every year. We knew that was going to be the expense … but we wanted to provide that opportunity.”

Fiala transfers to Pine-Richland

The WPIAL approved basketball standout Eve Fiala as fully eligible for the 2021-22 season at Pine-Richland, both for the regular season and postseason. The 6-foot-4 sophomore transferred from Indiana.

Scheuneman said the WPIAL board reviewed paperwork from her schools that “provided evidence and other reasons for the transfer that solidified that it was not for basketball reasons.”

Fiala already lists college offers from Pitt, Ohio State and others. She did not play this past season for Indiana.

“We had lengthy discussions about that student,” Scheuneman said, “and they felt confident in verifying that it was not for athletic intent.”

WPIAL calls in Seton LaSalle

Citing “potential violations,” the WPIAL board voted to bring in Seton LaSalle’s athletic administration for a hearing.

It’s unclear what the violations involve. They were discussed only in executive session Monday, and Scheuneman declined to detail them until after the school was notified.

“We’ve been made aware of some potential violations, so we’ll share those with Seton LaSalle here in the next day or two,” Scheuneman said, “and then request a hearing for them to respond to those allegations.”

Asked whether the allegations included recruiting violations, Scheuneman said: “They are various.” She declined to say which sports team or teams are involved.

North Catholic joins wrestling section

The WPIAL approved new wrestling alignments for the 2021-22 season with only one change. North Catholic will sponsor a team next winter, Scheuneman said, and joins a Class AA section that includes Burrell, Knoch, Riverview, South Allegheny, Summit Academy and Valley.

The WPIAL fully realigns its sections every two years, which won’t happen again until the 2022-23 season.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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