Joining a trend that most area high school adopted years ago, the Riverside-Brookfield High School District 208 school board voted 4 to 3 at its Sept. 13 meeting to stop paying coaches to scout future opponents.

Voting to eliminate paid scouting were Garry Gryczan, Laura Hruska, Dan Moon and Tim Walsh. Voting to continue to pay coaches to scout were John Keen; school board President Matt Sinde, a former assistant football coach at Triton College; and Mike Welch.

At the meeting, Walsh said that paid scouting was a frill that could be eliminated.

According to the contract with the Riverside Brookfield Education Association, the union that represents teachers and other employees at RBHS, members were paid $60 per scouting assignment.

The school board was within its rights to eliminate paid scouting, but now that it has done so, it cannot use whether or not a coach scouts opponents in evaluating or rehiring that coach, Superintendent Kevin Skinkis told the board.

Keen felt that the pay for scouting was reasonable.

“The hourly rate is not extravagant,” said Keen before voting to continue to pay coaches to scout.

 Football opponents are almost always scouted, and scouting in common in basketball.

According to RBHS Athletic Director Art Ostrow, RBHS spent about $3,480, which amounts to 58 payments, on scouting assignments in the 2010-11 school year.

Boys and girls basketball accounted for about 75 percent of the cost, and football accounted for the rest, according to Skinkis and Ostrow.

At many area schools coaches are not paid extra to scout.

Lyons Township High School, for example, does not pay its coaches extra to scout opponents.

“We do not,” said LTHS athletic director John Grundke. “That’s just one of the things that’s part of their coaching responsibilities.”

Athletic directors at Hinsdale South, Hersey, New Trier, Evanston, Naperville Central and Oak Park and River Forest High School also all said their schools do not pay coaches extra to scout.

“The expectation is that, if they’re part of the coaching staff, … they have scouting responsibilities,” said OPRF Athletic Director John Stelzer. “There is not additional pay. It’s just part of the stipend.”

Some athletic directors said that years ago paying extra for scouting was more common.

“That was something you used to get paid for, but as budgets have gotten tighter over the years those were things that were taken away,” said Hinsdale South Athletic Director Tim Feigh. “Those were frills; those were fluffy things in contracts that people could do, but not any more.”

Feigh said that he doesn’t believe that coaches were paid extra to scout during the 18 years he has been athletic director at Hinsdale South, but he does remember paying coaches extra to scout when he was the athletic director at York High School in the early 1990s.

A few area school districts continue to pay coaches to scout. 

At Leyden High School, the teachers contract calls for coaches receive $30 to scout a future opponent.

Leyden Athletic Director Randy Conrad said that, at Leyden, scouting is mostly limited to football. Conrad said that Leyden paid about $400 in total to coaches to scout last year.

Niles District 219 makes RBHS look stingy when it comes to paying for scouting. The teachers contract in that district, which consists of Niles North and Niles West high schools, calls for coaches to get paid about $124 to scout a future opponent, according to Niles West Athletic Director David Rosengard.

RBHS football and boys basketball coaches say they will continue to scout future opponents even without getting paid to do it.

“The boys basketball team will continue to scout our opponents as we have always done,” said RBHS boys varsity basketball coach Tom McCloskey in an email. “We have had great success, and that has always been and always will be a key component.”

RBHS head varsity football coach Jason Rech said that lower level coaches do most of the scouting, as is common at most high schools.