Colorado Springs, Colo. (April 3, 2020)—The USA Ultimate Board of Directors conducted its first quarterly meeting of 2020 on Saturday, March 28. Along with the organization’s leadership staff, the 13-person board discussed a variety of topics in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The major focus of the board meeting was on the challenges facing our sport during the coronavirus outbreak and the serious financial stress the organization will encounter. The staff provided to the board a series of possible scenarios that could occur depending on future federal, state and local government directives and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations. A difficult decision to not immediately fill several vacant positions, contributing to an immediate 20% reduction in headquarters staff, was described to the board. We are conserving all cash on hand to preserve as many options as possible for the largely unknown future. We have also applied for an emergency relief loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA) and are working on a Paycheck Protection Program loan application, also through the SBA. We are also conducting a webinar and providing guidance to our state-based organizations and local affiliates on applying for loans and preserving assets.
The board welcomed three new members – Mike Edmonds (independent), Angela Lin (elite athlete) and Steve Sullivan (at-large) – and elected two officers – Charlie Mercer (secretary) and Steve Mooney (treasurer). Robyn Fennig and Tyler Kinley remain president and vice president respectively.
The board also got a sneak peek at USA Ultimate’s new website, which is getting closer to launch, as well as a summary of the potential playing opportunities the staff is exploring for our members later in the year when authorities may begin to relax or lift current restrictions.
Another topic of discussion was USA Ultimate’s no refund policy of membership dues. After the cancellation or postponement of events earlier this month, and with an uncertain timeline ahead of us, several of our members have inquired about refunds. As a small 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization and national governing body of amateur sport, membership dues, followed by event-related revenue (player fees, sponsorship, merchandise, admissions, etc.), are the lifeblood of USA Ultimate. Without our members’ continued loyal and generous support, we would not be able to continue offering the many services and benefits we provide to the greater ultimate community.
While we understand that some members may view their dues simply as a requirement for participating in USA Ultimate-sanctioned activities, the reality is that member dues are critical for supporting a wide variety of important services, programs and initiatives. These include SafeSport and athlete safety programs; equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives; education and training programs for coaches, observers and organizers; rules development; youth and girls’ outreach efforts; U.S. National Teams; media coverage and promotional activity; website and mobile app development and technology platform maintenance; organizing national-level and championship events across all competitive divisions; financial aid and equipment grants; and supporting ultimate at the grassroots level with significant funding to our state-based organizations and local affiliates. All of these things and more are essential to supporting USA Ultimate’s mission and achieving the goals in our strategic plan while providing a service and value to the entire ultimate community – athletes, volunteers, organizers, coaches, educators, observers, parents and guardians, fans and more. This work, along with the basic operating costs of the organization, rely on revenue generated by membership dues and would not be possible without the collective support of our members for which we are extremely grateful.
While we must maintain our no refund policy for dues, we are refunding player fees for USA Ultimate events that have officially been postponed (i.e. the USA Ultimate Beach Championships).
“Like most other small organizations, USA Ultimate is being hit hard financially,” explained USA Ultimate Board of Directors President Robyn Fennig. “Most of our work to advance the sport of ultimate, from all of our programs and services to supporting growth through our volunteers in local communities across the country, to fundamental operating expenses, is funded by membership dues. In a time that is fiscally challenging for so many businesses like ours across the world, we have to help each other to sustain our mission of advancing and growing the sport of ultimate.”
Although it’s uncertain as to when we’ll play ultimate again, the board and staff encourage everyone to consider supporting USA Ultimate and all of the services and programming we provide by renewing your membership or becoming a new member in 2020. This is the simplest and most effective way to keep contributing to the greater good of the sport and community we so love as we wait and see how the remainder of the year unfolds.
We appreciate your support, know we will get through this together, and hope to see you out on the field soon!