Newly installed CHSAA Commissioner Mike Krueger emphasizes a point during CHSAA's Fall Sports Media Day Aug. 15 at Empower Field in Denver.
The long, sought-after pay increases for high-school game officials are officially in play.
The Colorado High School Activities Association’s legislative council, which makes CHSAA’s decisions, voted overwhelmingly Jan. 24 to increase officials’ pay by $10, or a 48 percent increase, over the next three years. For example, varsity baseball umpires made $85 in 2022. In the 2024-2025 school year, the pay is $95.
To help schools handle increased budget demands, CHSAA officials said there will be a gradual increase in funding acoss all sports ranging from 40 percent to 60 percent.
With it comes an increase in mileage fees for officials. It’s 40 cents now, increasing to 50 cents a mile for the 2023-2024 school year and up to 60 cents per mile in the 2025-2026 school year. CHSAA officials hope this will be a way to address the shortage of officials in the state.
CHSAA’s new commissioner, Mike Krueger, said Colorado has been in the bottom third nationally and regionally in officials’ pay for several years.
“It’s a crisis situation,” he told the council before its vote. “A lot of older officials are retiring, and we have a lack of a personnel pool.”
Schools will feel a sizable budget increase, but Krueger said that would apply to just the first year of pay increases. He thought the impact would be somewhere north of 30 percent.
Krueger also told the council more pay for officials means higher expectations.
“We’ll work with them to make sure they have the education and the memberships they need,” he told the council. “One area where we have fallen behind is hospitality. We have to support each other. We’ve got to unite around that shared responsibility.”
CSHAA’s officials’ fee committee will take another look at the pay scale in three to four years. Chairman Eric Johnson, the athletic director at Windsor High School, said the time frame was about the same for other states when they discuss pay rates for game officials.
“It’s the first step of an ongoing process,” Krueger said. “We aren’t competing with club teams for officials’ pay. It helps get us to where we need to be but it doesn’t put us so far ahead that we put a strain on the budget numbers.”
Treatment of officials
The council also agreed to amend CHSAA bylaws to include a piece on intimidation of or physical threats to game officials.
Staff notes defined game officials as referees, judges, umpires, linesmen and those serving in similar capacities. The agenda defined an assault as “an intentional act, or threat ... that puts another person in reasonable belief of imminent harmful or offensive conduct.”
Threatening behavior can include words, actions or behaviors that can cause others to be concerned for their safety.
The consequences for violators can include permanent exclusion from CHSAA events, It will be up to the commissioner and the affected school’s administration to decide the penalties.
The legislative council also approved a couple of changes in high-school golf. One was to add a 2A classification for both boys and girls golf, beginning in the 2024 cycle.
The other is to seed 5A regional tournaments two weeks before regionals. Locations will be determined by league rotation. The golf committee said each league will have one team per regional to act as host.
“The goal is to have a four-way rotation for 5A state sites with a Western state host every six years,” staff notes said.