Post Crescent - Wisconsin
WFCA surprised by Shrine Bowl decision
February 14, 2006
By Brett Christopherson
The Wisconsin Football Coaches Association felt like a quarterback drilled by a backside blitzer.
So says WFCA president Dan Brunner in the wake of last week's announcement that the annual Wisconsin Shrine Bowl high school all-star football game was being dissolved following a 29-year run.
Sponsored by the Beja, Tripoli and Zor Shriners, the Shrine Bowl pitted graduated state seniors and served as a fundraiser for Shriners Hospitals for Children in Chicago and Minneapolis.
The series generated $1.2 million, with last year's game earning $129,586.
"This hit us out of the blue," Brunner said on Monday in response to a press release issued on Friday by Wisconsin Shrine Bowl Inc. that stated the WFCA had chosen to opt out of the series. "We were under the understanding that we were going to go on with everything this year as it had been."
According to Brunner, it was WSB Inc. that made the decision to bow out.
Brunner said he and WSB Inc. president Dennis Korth of Appleton had discussed a proposal in which the WFCA would act as the game's sole fundraiser.
In turn, the WFCA would present WSB Inc. $50,000, with the remaining proceeds distributed to other charities, including Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.
The WFCA sought that distinction because of membership's desire to become more involved with state charities.
But because of requirements stemming from its tax-exempt status, along with Imperial Shrine regulations, WSB Inc. could not accept that plan.
For the past three years, the WFCA was given consent by WSB Inc. to raise money for the game and Shriners Hospitals for Children.
The WFCA has also acted as an agent in the selection of players and coaches.
"He could say that we opted out," Korth said when reached Monday night. "We have the corporation, and they are the ones who have been assisting us. But they are the ones that opted not to be part of WSB Inc.
"They then decided because they have been raising funds that they continue to raise funds without the OK of the Shrine, which is against the 501(c)(3) requirement."
Brunner added that Korth presented another proposal in which the game would be played this year as it had in the past with all proceeds benefiting the two Shriners Hospitals.
WSB Inc. would then drop out of the series and allow the WFCA to gain full control in 2007.
However, talks stalled when the WFCA asked WSB Inc. to include in a written agreement that this year's game would be the final installment of the series.
Brunner denied a claim in which Korth said the WFCA wanted WSB Inc. to sign an agreement requesting that it not organize any future Shrine games.
"We were just waiting for them to put something in writing that this was going to be the final game between us," said Brunner, also the head football coach at Hartford Union High School. "Nobody said anything that they couldn't hold a game."
Said Korth: "That was the intent of the paragraph that they wanted us to write. Yes, I proposed the '06 game to continue as all the other games had prior to that and then we would basically hand the game over to them. But for us to say sometime in the future that we never hold another Shrine game, we weren't going to do that. And that's where things fell down."
In any event, this year's contest will go on as scheduled and be called the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association All-Star Football Game.
It will be played on July 15 at Titan Stadium in Oshkosh and include players and coaches who already had been selected to participate in the Shrine Bowl.
Brunner said the WFCA still intends on donating an unspecified portion of the game's proceeds to the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Chicago and Minneapolis on behalf of the WFCA Charitable Organization.
Remaining funds, minus game expenses, will be doled out to other charities