Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

NAVIGATING TROUBLED WATERS.(Final)

Byline: Ken Sickenger Journal Staff Writer

Salzwedel is departing the NMAA amid financial, image problems

Beset by budget woes and facing the departure of its controversial, longtime director, the New Mexico Activities Association is at a crossroads.

Dissension exists in the ranks fueled in part by the NMAA's recent decision to levy an emergency assessment against member schools already struggling with their own budget problems.

Questions exist over plans to spend millions of dollars on a "Dream Center." This past week, questions were raised about ticket counts of the 2002 big-school football championship.

NMAA executive director Dan Salzwedel recently announced his intention to resign. The announcement came at a time when expanding services, costly litigation and stagnant attendance revenues have the state's high school athletic governing body struggling to stay afloat financially.

The NMAA's board of directors is scheduled to meet Wednesday, just two days before member schools are required to have their assessments paid. Those fees, which amount to $1,980 for Class 5A schools, have come under fire from some school administrators, who already face increasing NMAA dues.

"The thing is, we're all experiencing problems," says Don Allsup, athletic director for Roswell schools. "It's pretty hard to ask schools to help with your shortfall when they're scrambling to cover their own expenses."

The NMAA operated at a deficit for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2001, when the girls state basketball tournament ended up losing money in Las Cruces, and the association's legal expenses topped $126,000. The NMAA came out marginally ahead in fiscal '02. …

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