Here’s one way for districts to eliminate participation fees for school sports: find famous alumni in a generous mood.
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley is donating $60,000 to the Saginaw (Mich.) school district to cover every student-athlete’s athletic-participation fee for the 2012-13 school year, MLive.com reported on Tuesday.
The district recently instituted the pay-to-play fees for the first time in its history due to over $100,000 in budget cuts, according to MLive.com.
Woodley, a 2003 graduate from Saginaw High School, reached out to the district after hearing about the newly implemented fees. Middle school students would have been charged a flat rate of $50 per athlete, while high school students would have faced a $75 flat rate fee.
“When LaMarr heard about it, it bothered him,” Malcom Staples, Woodley’s uncle, told MLive.com. “When LaMarr was playing sports, if his family had to pay $75, they probably could have done it, but it would not have been a simple thing. It would be a hardship for a lot of people, even if they could come up with the money.”
According to the website, Woodley’s gift will cover the participation fees of 800 student-athletes in middle and high school.
“Through his foundation, LaMarr wanted to make sure that kids get to participate in athletics because it meant so much to him,” said Saginaw Public Schools Athletic Director Jeffrey Goodwine to MLive.com. "...He’s a true Saginawian.”
Woodley has reached out previously to his high school alma mater, having donated 100 hooded sweatshirts to the school’s marching band this past January, according to ESPN.com.
Here’s guessing those 100 sweatshirts didn’t cost $60,000, though.
Photo: Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley during practice at NFL football training camp at the team training facility in Latrobe, Pa. on July 25. (Keith Srakocic/AP)
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.