BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Across Western New York, thousands of student-athletes along with their coaches are putting in practice time ahead of the start of another school year and sports season.
But, the start of the new season is in doubt.
According to sources with direct knowledge of ongoing contractual discussions with Section VI, high school sports officials are considering a job action ahead of the season, declining to do games until the Section agrees to a new contract for officials.
The job action would impact fall sports such as football and volleyball, winter sports such as basketball and hockey and spring sports such as baseball.
According to sources, football officials, for example, are looking for greater pay and more officials on games. But, Section VI has not agreed to those details. The contract for sports officials and Section VI expires on August 31. Contract negotiations have been going on for months.
A statement from Section VI President Maureen Donahue was released on Friday:
“In response to recent media requests regarding ongoing negotiations with the Western New York
Section VI continues to be committed to our student-athletes and school districts. It is important to Section VI to continue its long-standing goodwill with the Western New York Sports Officials.
It is the position of Section VI not to negotiate contracts in public. The appearance of a potential work stoppage will negatively impact our member schools and student-athletes. We continue to value our officials in the service they provide to our student-athletes.
Section VI has been dedicated over the last year to negotiating a fair contract for all involved and stands committed to a successor agreement.”Section VI President Maureen Donahue
Michael Cornell, the president of the Erie-Niagara School Superintendents Association released a statement saying:
“I have no knowledge of the negotiations. However, at this point, school superintendents should expect that sports will begin on time with officials. We understand the parties involved continue to negotiate in good faith with one another because of the respect they have for each other and the process. Now that we are post-COVID and our student-athletes are poised for the first normal sports season since the fall of 2019, I am sure both sides would agree that we can’t let anything serve as a barrier to our student-athletes participating on the court or in the field.”
The High School Sports Officials of Western New York released this statement:
Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.