Coronavirus has already claimed the high school spring sports season.
Now it's coming for those coaches' wallets.
School districts across Michigan are grappling with unique questions regarding the pay of spring coaches. Should they be paid if the season was canceled? Considering the uncertainty of funding moving forward, can they be?
"I think it's fair to (pay) the coaches who are preparing," Ann Arbor Skyline girls soccer coach Chris Morgan said. "If the school district only gave half, that would probably be fair, but I'm not going to hold my breath on it."
No spring games were contested before the MHSAA shut things down, but depending on the sport and school, some tryouts and practices were held, and even though official practices in the offseason are not allowed, virtually all coaches do limited group workouts with their athletes before the season officially starts.
"Our seasons don't start March 12," Morgan said. "They started back in November. We start with strength and conditioning sessions and then facilitate open gyms for the kids to come and kick the ball around. To run a program that's going to have good results and keep the kids safe, cut down on injury, it's kind of expected. We don't have 100 percent attendance, but it's maybe six to seven hours per week. Then you start the season."
Birmingham Marian and Coach Barry Brodsky have dominated Division 2 girls soccer, winning state titles eight out of the last 17 seasons and finishing runner-up three times in that stretch. The program is active for more than three or four months every spring.
"In the offseason it's basically watching them in indoor leagues," Brodsky said. "We have a training session with an outside service that we watch. It's a lot of staying in touch with the kids."
Coaching pay in the high school ranks is notoriously low, but in some school districts it can range up to several thousands of dollars per season. For coaches facing precarious employment situations due to coronavirus, their coaching check could make a significant difference. For coaches that aren't relying on their coaching pay, it's a different story.
"I don't think anybody does it for the money," Brodsky said. "To me, the money doesn't even factor into it. I'd gladly pay them to let me coach there. It's a once-in-a-lifetime situation. I'm 64 years old and I've worked my whole life, so coaching is 100 percent for enjoyment."
When the MHSAA indefinitely suspended competition on March 12, most of the focus was on winter sports, which were in the middle of state tournaments. It's recently that the subject of spring coaches' pay has surfaced, and many athletic directors are still trying to gather information from their coaches, other school districts, superintendents and school boards.
"The district is currently evaluating what to pay coaches," Redford Thurston athletic director Al Chambo told The Detroit News in an email. "I am gathering data from other districts and forwarding info to the superintendent and business office."
"They will get paid, but we haven't decided on the amount," Wyandotte athletic director Thomas DeSana said in an email. "We will decide soon."
Most coaches would normally get their check after the season, and some athletic directors are kicking the can farther down the road, deferring a decision.
"The district is currently focused on the development of the continuity of learning plan," Northville athletic director Brian Samulski said in an email. "There has been no decision yet on spring coaches and other extra-duty stipends as it is somewhat less time sensitive in relation to other matters that districts are working on. It will be given review and consideration in the near future."
Birmingham Marian has settled on a compromise: one-third pay.
"Our administration decided that our coaches had planned for their season, with scheduling of games and practices, hotels for out of town competitions, dealing with parents, and had practiced for three or four days dealing with team selection, which is a tough process," said Marian athletic director David Feldman in an email. "We wanted to show good faith towards them, so we came up with one-third of their salary as a fair stipend for them."
To pay or not to pay
Here are the results of a 218-respondent survey conducted by the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association:
►Percentage of Michigan schools paying spring coaches in full: 26
►Percentage of Michigan schools partially paying spring coaches (10 to 90 percent): 18
►Percentage of Michigan schools not paying spring coaches: 5
►Percentage of Michigan schools that haven't made a decision: 51
MHSAA spring sports
Girls golf (Upper Peninsula)
Boys tennis (Upper Peninsula)
Girls tennis (Lower Peninsula)
Boys track and field
Girls track and field