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Compensating LLWS players


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#1 Adam T

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 05:21 PM

http://sports.yahoo....-053214653.html

 

This is an interesting article.

 

 

If Steve Keener truly wants to run a progressive organization like he says, sooner than later the CEO of Little League Baseball will do what he suggested to Yahoo Sports could be possible in the future: give back some of the $76 million in television rights fees the organization is reaping over the next eight years to the kids whose names, images and likenesses fill up flat screens every summer.

 

 

 

"I've always felt we need to be as progressive an organization as we can," Keener told Yahoo Sports. "We don't know what's coming. If at some point in time that would be deemed to be appropriate, we'll consider it. At the moment, I don't see the necessity and don't think we should be compensating kids right now.

 

Ouch...

As the kids enjoyed their experiences, Keener made $430,844 in salary and benefits between October 2012 and September 2013, according to tax records. Over the last decade, his compensation package nearly has doubled from the $228,869 he made in 2005, a number far closer to that of other nonprofit CEOs. An analysis by the Nonprofit Times showed CEOs for similarly sized organizations to Little League, which operated last year with a $23.5 million budget, averaged $184,926 in pay. In its most recent study, Charity Navigator said the median salary of a large-sized nonprofit CEO in the Mid-Atlantic area was $267,724.


#2 amutz

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 05:59 PM

Paying the travel costs for teams to come to the LLWS seems very worthwhile.  Reducing fees paid by local leagues does too.  Lots of good things to do with the $ before paying players IMO.   I would love to see more $ flowing into support for local programs and reducing the costs of play for kids.

 

http://www.usatoday....eener/14404095/ has some good reading in it too. Excerpts:

 

When Little League signed its contract with ESPN in 2007, Keener said, it lowered affiliation fees for the local leagues. He also said Little League pays for 125 criminal background checks for each local league and provides training program for coaches.

"Those are ways we try direct the funds right back to the local programs," he said.

Little League also pays for travel, lodging and food costs for 16 teams, each of which include 13 players and three coaches.  

 "Our responsibility is to provide the travel, the accommodations and all the expenses related to participating in the World Series for the players and the coaches and the umpires who are here working the World Series."



#3 Adam T

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 06:15 PM

I'm surprised that there would be any support for compensating the players.

Apparently the topic only has merit as a discussion topic in light of the O'Bannon v. NCAA ruling.

I wouldn't complain if LL offered some kind of travel voucher per player for a parent or guardian to go to Wiliamsport (or wherever) to watch their kid play. But that is as far as I could see any "compensation" going.



#4 Lou Barbieri

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 06:17 PM

Be careful, be very careful about paying the players.

That could easily cost them their "amatuer status".

 

I seem to recall the ESPN Announcers talking about a Volunteer Umpire that paid his own way from Poland???



#5 Mike_Hirschman

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 06:31 PM

OK... let's hit this on a few fronts:

 

First, I will be critical of LL HQ that they have not said enough about the amount of money that will be going back into the local leagues and volunteers from this TV deal. It was signed last year, there were some good news stories out there one day during the LLWS and that was it. They really need to play up the drop in Charter Fees, the $500K for league hardships and the other line items that are going to benefit the volunteers. 

 

Second, either the media went too far in taking Stephen's comments out of context or he said too much. As someone who works in college athletics, WE ARE TRYING TO FIGURE OUT THE JUDGE'S RULING. So to think that LLHQ knows what it may or may not mean, is beyond ridiculous. The lawyers are having a hard time trying to make sense of what the judge wrote in her summary versus her opinion. It is extremely broad and, frankly, tends to contradict itself in places from what I have been told. (I haven't personally read either the summary or the other 99 pages of "explanation", and most of these media people haven't either.) It will be appealed... probably twice.

 

Lastly, I will not complain about the salaries at LLHQ. For starters, they have not been able to recruit or retain talented people for quite some time because of the salary levels. It wasn't until the last few years that salaries became competitive... and I know this first hand. About seven years ago, I flirted with a job at HQ... it would have been a 10-15% paycut for me to leave my job at the time (working as a lower-level Division I sports information director). Last year, there was a similar discussion with HQ... and it would have been a fairly significant raise (and yes, my salary in a new position from back then is also higher than what it once was).

 

For some time, a good portion of the people who worked for LL were either mid 20s with no family and just starting out, or retired military people who were former volunteers and receiving supplemental pay from pensions. It is good to see them being able to pay solid staff members the wages that will make them want to keep their positions -- regardless of whether they are in a regional office or on The Hill.  

 

In the criticisms of Stephen Keener's salary, no one has mentioned the fact that he has been the CEO for 20 years. That is a SIGNIFICANT factor that is lost in those comparisons. How many non-profit CEOs are in that chair for 20 years? Not very many. I would challenge that "study" that is quoted. I personally thought the USA Today story had a negative tone (slanted would be a good descriptor) and I was very disappointed in it.

 

 

Lou... to your point, since I don't think the TV contract kicks in until after this world series, those programs may not be in place until next year. Now, that may be why HQ hasn't said as much about funneling savings and funding back towards leagues, but I do think they need to start doing so particularly to offset the negative spin that was put forth in the Yahoo and USA Today pieces (and a few others that have jumped on their coattails.)

 

However, I also thought HQ always paid travel for the international umpires, just not the US folks. (We know not to believe everything the Worldwide Leader tells us on the airwaves...)



#6 Adam T

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 07:33 PM

First, I will be critical of LL HQ that they have not said enough about the amount of money that will be going back into the local leagues... They really need to play up the drop in Charter Fees

 

The charter fee reduction and the 125 free background checks work out to around $0.30 savings per player for our league. I'm not too impressed with that. The travel expenses paid for world series teams is a much bigger deal from my perspective (if you happen to have a team make it to a WS).

 

 

Lastly, I will not complain about the salaries at LLHQ. For starters, they have not been able to recruit or retain talented people for quite some time because of the salary levels. It wasn't until the last few years that salaries became competitive... and I know this first hand. About seven years ago, I flirted with a job at HQ... it would have been a 10-15% paycut for me to leave my job at the time (working as a lower-level Division I sports information director). Last year, there was a similar discussion with HQ... and it would have been a fairly significant raise (and yes, my salary in a new position from back then is also higher than what it once was).

 

I just wouldn't expect someone looking at the possibility of working for LLI to be critical of the management salaries.

 


In the criticisms of Stephen Keener's salary, no one has mentioned the fact that he has been the CEO for 20 years. That is a SIGNIFICANT factor that is lost in those comparisons. How many non-profit CEOs are in that chair for 20 years? Not very many. I would challenge that "study" that is quoted. I personally thought the USA Today story had a negative tone (slanted would be a good descriptor) and I was very disappointed in it.

 

7.5% raise each year since 2005? Not the worst yearly raises in the world. I imagine a doctor, laywer, CEO, making 2X his income might think Stephen is under-compensated. A league president, or team manager who has a work-a-day world job may think he is over-compensated. The question (that is almost pointless to ask on an internet forum) will Stephen be worth a half-million dollars in 2016? Would he stay with LLI for less? Could LLI get the same results as Stephen can provide from a CEO that was paid $250,000? $300,000?

 

 

 

"That's a lot of money when all the grunt work is volunteer," said Randy Stevens, president of the Little League in Nashville, Tenn., whose all-star team qualified for the World Series each of the past two years. "Now I'm wondering where it's all going."

 

There is an element of truth to Randy's comment. Who has more to do with the success of Little League... all the local volunteer BOD around the globe or Stephen Keener?

 

meh, whatever, I'm probably projecting my frustrations with the local LL onto LLI. To be fair to the situation, the articles I read, each were a bit of a "hit piece" and had a slanted feel to them.



#7 amutz

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 08:55 PM

Should Stephen Keener should get some substantial credit for succesfully negotiating the lucrative TV rights deals and building the LLWS 'brand'?  Seems so though honestly I'm not in a position to answer that question.  That's straight-up income and if measured on that basis his salary seems to reward performance.    



#8 Mike_Hirschman

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 10:21 PM

Adam... I hope you will understand when I say that I am offended at your comment of my defending salaries.

 

I used the statement to provide context. Seven years ago, I withdrew from the position when interest was shown in me. Last year, I was willing to listen. Nonetheless, I am not an employee of Little League and probably never will be. Nor will I disclose the exact numbers discussed in either instance. I am happy to say they have made significant strides in recent years.

 

I hesitated to write anything... and your assumption is the reason why. 

 

Fixed Assets make up close to half of those $84 million in assets (just under $42 million)... that includes the land those parents were standing on, the dorms the kids stayed in and all five regional centers. A very deceiving number to throw around by the media. 

 

Tax return "compensation" can also mean a lot of things... that isn't base salary compensation. It is salary and all benefits. If you truly wanted to look at tax returns and salary history and all of that, it is available online. My comment was that they were making assumptions in their comparisons of him to other CEOs in particular because few stay for 20 years. If he left tomorrow, I would hope that the next CEO's salary would not be the same (although that isn't always the case).

 

But does he earn his salary? I would say so. The Babe Ruth organization only got notoriety when Cal sold his name and demanded a golden key from them. And they still don't have nearly the following that Little League has. Little League's brand has grown significantly, while keeping in-line with the mission and moral compass for the most part. That is a credit to Stephen Keener... I don't like every decision he has made over the last 20 years and have my moments when I am critical of him. But I will give the man his due that he has a difficult job and has done it very well over the last 20 years.

 

And for the record, Stephen Tellefsen's total compensation was $223,370 last year with a base salary of just under $176K. He's actually the President of Babe Ruth International, not Cal Ripken, Jr. Mr. Tellefsen is in his 15th year.

 

Mr. Tellefsen is managing eight million dollars of assets, less than $200K of which are fixed assets. They have NO investment securities listed, whereas LL has $25 million in investments.  

 

Maybe some of those numbers are a big piece of why Mr. Keener is worth his money... and why LL's financials look so much bigger, because comparatively speaking, minus the investments and fixed assets, LL would be at $17 million to Babe Ruth's roughly $8 million. 



#9 richives

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 11:38 PM

There seems to be a significant number of people in this country that think anyone who earns more than they do makes too much.

 

Then there's the group that has absolutely no clue as to what a competitive salary is for a given job. I know a lot of people whose jaws would drop if they knew what the salaries at the local defense contractors are. They have no clue. None. Nada.

 

Then there's the folks like the one that stood up at a school board meeting, noted that new graduate engineers from a nearby college were starting at $61,000/year,  and used that in complaining that the local teachers starting at $42,000 were getting too much. Everyone in the room just sorta went Huh?



#10 Adam T

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Posted 28 August 2014 - 12:31 PM

Adam... I hope you will understand when I say that I am offended at your comment of my defending salaries.

 

You shouldn't be offended, the comment wasn't a personal attack on your integrity or character. It was more an observation on human nature. I know a guy who is a real [email protected]$$, but his friends like him and his mom thinks he's swell. I have relatives who are teachers, I wouldn't expect them to openly criticize the principal of their school, or the superintendent of the school system. Nobody likes the US congress and most think they are doing a bad job, when it's not campaign time the congressmen often have good things to say about each other (because they have to interact and work with these people).

 

That is all I was inferring, if you are in the LLI social circles and perhaps have a potential job offer at some point you may be slower to criticize than some random person... and why wouldn't you?!! it's just human nature.

 

 


Maybe some of those numbers are a big piece of why Mr. Keener is worth his money... and why LL's financials look so much bigger, because comparatively speaking, minus the investments and fixed assets, LL would be at $17 million to Babe Ruth's roughly $8 million. 

 

I'm not saying Steven Keener makes to much (I'm not saying he makes too little either), I think it's an interesting topic. LL isn't a corporation making profits for shareholders. LL is a non-profit, at some point there is a limit to how much a non-profit should pay any person... I don't think there is any arguing that.

 

Really the Steven Keener salary discussion isn't that far removed from the topic of travel ball administrators who make healthy profits. Most people vilify these travel ball guys as making a sweet dime off "the kids".

 

The salary compensation topic could be in the same vein as the discussion of how a local LL BOD conducts it's finances. Is the BOD spending too many dinner meetings at the local restaurant? Is the local contractor, a buddy of the league president, getting one too many sweetheart deals? or maybe everything is just fine and it's a matter of perspective.



#11 B_Hanlon

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Posted 31 August 2014 - 02:41 AM

I am in full agreement with Mike and think Little League has done a much better job attracting and maintaining talent the past few years and you can only do that paying competitive wages through the organization. Little League spends a lot of money and resources on supporting the organization and give their DA's a pretty darned good support system.

I am very pleased with Steve Keener as CEO and think he is as good of a leader as you can find.

#12 LLmomx2

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Posted 10 May 2015 - 10:04 PM

I am new...first comment and this is such an old line topic thread it may not even be read...BUT

 

Am I the only one that read the article referenced that really focused on the issues that could be created or exacerbated by compensating the children for playing in the LLWS?

 

I am all for paying for getting them there and providing for them while there.  I even think it would be a positive move to pay/partially pay for ONE of each players guardians to accompany them to the WS - if for no other reason than the safety and security of that child.

 

However, I think if LLI were to start compensating these children in cash or otherwise it could create a great deal of problems.  There are already numerous adults from parents, to coaches to BoD's on up the food chain who are more than willing to cheat just to go to the LLWS.  If children were to start leaving WP with a check in hand I could all but guarantee that all levels of administration would be inundated with many more attempts of people attempting to cheat so they could cash in on these children.

 

Some are quick to blame WP for being paid to much or cashing in on these kids but with the public and government scrutiny that a tax-exempt organization receives there is a much better chance of the financial windfall that the LLWS generates being shared equitably than by passing it on as cash to a group of pre-teens for un-principled guardians to misuse or for any other schemes the unscrupulous contrives that attempts to separate the uneducated or naïve from their money.

 

After all it is Little League in general as an overall organization that by its existence has given said children the opportunity to even play in a league and therefore play in one of LL's events.  So the wealth should be distributed equitably to further share that opportunity to other children via growing existing leagues or funding assistance to start new leagues where initially it may seem impossible.  I do not believe any few individuals should benefit off something that is really a world-wide endeavor.  The only reason that the LLWS can exist is because leagues everywhere continue to run off of millions of hours of volunteer labor.  So even the leagues who have never and may never set a foot on the WP diamond should still reap part of the overall rewards.

 

My one exception would be if WP gave each player that gets to WP is awarded a small scholarship.  Not cash but reserved cash that can be used only for some sort of a higher education whether that is university, community college or even a trade school AFTER completion of HS or a GED.  The reason I do not think it should only be limited to college is because many LL children may not be able for many reasons (academic or financial or...) may not attend college but can still be encouraged to finish high school or equivalent and should not believe that they cannot still be productive assets to society.  A scholarship program would reinforce the fact that sports in general and LL specifically encourages children to stay in school.

 

One last thought.  If LL were paying an idiot $50k a year to do a poor job it would be too much...but paying someone a medium salary (by most CEO standards) to run a company successfully for many years is admirable.  When banks/investment companies are paying huge salaries and OUTRAGEOUS bonuses to CEOs and such who are still losing that company money and operating in the red then LLs everywhere should be thankful that LLI is maintaining a balanced ledger and growing financially.  If LL did like many companies and lived a hand to mouth existence it would only require a year or two of poor performance of leagues nationally or internationally for LLI to be bankrupt and LLs everywhere to go the way that many companies have throughout the years.  There are countless examples of good companies, many with sincerely altruistic goals that are now defunct due to operating with a poor business plan and/or not planning wisely how to utilize funds.  How many times have businesses chosen to spend at net proceeds instead of saving, investing or reinvesting in the company only to eventually be bankrupt?  Therefore it is indicative of smart business to not immediately distribute every cent that comes in among all leagues.  The management of the finances, investing and keeping of a slush fund ensures that LLs everywhere will have a far better chance of continuity.  I say it is great that they got the TV contract and money.  The television exposure promotes Little League, encourages children to play and also adds to resources available for LL to maintain and promote the programs even in leaner times.

 

Thanks,

LLmomx2



#13 Mike_Hirschman

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Posted 11 May 2015 - 01:06 PM

Thanks for joining us and welcome aboard!

 

The discussion is an "addendum", if you will, to the discussion about paying college athletes. And very much like the discussion about paying college athletes, it is a concentrated discussion on one specific group of athletes and has been thought through about as much as a four-year-old with a new toy... 

 

Yes, it could (and likely would) create more impropriety when a "prize money" was attached to getting to the LLWS. 

 

There was a lot made of the kids from Chicago being inner-city and not having very much, which was a large part of the basis for this story (and a few others like it that were out there). I find it ironic, though, how we have found out after the fact that most of them could afford to somehow play on a travel ball team and that some of them even had parents with multiple addresses, could afford secondary addresses for school residency and other purposes and weren't all from impoverished backgrounds. 

 

In my opinion, LL HQ needs to continue to promote the programs that are returning these monies to the individual leagues. For whatever the reason was, I don't think they did enough to promote that when the BOD made that decision. As I stated earlier, the new grant programs that you are now seeing, the fact that umpires are being given travel stipends for the first time, the lowering of charter and insurance fees... all of them are as a result of the new television compensation. 

 

This year's money-related squawk will be the new regional formats... and the ability to televise them more and showcase those kids will be completely forgotten. 



#14 Guest_Oden Austin_*

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 04:00 PM

Along these lines, but different.
Can a local LL give the AS players the jerseys after AS Season as a memento/keepsake?
With or without their name on their back of the jersey?

#15 Mike_Hirschman

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 09:03 PM

Many do.
It would not violate their amateur status.

#16 amutz

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 10:25 PM

Our kids got the the little square of cloth with their name on it, but not the actual jersey as a keepsake!
Funny... but it actually was a nice little bit of memorabilia along with their hat.

#17 Plesh

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Posted 13 February 2016 - 07:09 PM

We used to use reusable jerseys for All Stars (and regular season), but they were old and heavy.

 

Now we let the kids keep everything each year (regular season and All Stars). 



#18 B_Hanlon

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Posted 18 February 2016 - 05:07 PM

Many leagues in my region put the names of the kids on the jerseys and they keep them after they get eliminated.

Some leagues go waaay overboard and do practice shirts etc...

We had one league last year that did camo uniforms and they printed jerseys with the kids last names for each of the parents.

 

Unfortunately "All Stars"  is way too commercialized these days.





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