East Syracuse, N.Y. - Section III Athletics announced, Wednesday, that through binding arbitration, a contract settlement with officials has been reached, and a four-year contract is now in place.
This ends a lengthy dispute between the section and officials that threatened to affect fall sports games this scholastic sports season.
The big sticking points in the dispute had to do with moving from a set fee to a flat fee for officials across the board to compensate all equally, that was agreed upon earlier.
The other came in the form of providing an extra football official for games locally, should a school request it, which would bring the total number of refs for a single game up to five. That has now been approved as well.
The case went through the American Arbitration Association, which ultimately reached the settlement between the two sides.
"At this point now that the contract has been agreed on both sides, we're relieved that the scholastic sports season is going to get underway and we're looking forward to working this year," said Jim Magnarelli, a representative for Section III officials. "It's just too bad that so much negative publicity had to come out because of the fact that we couldn't sit down at the table and agree upon something long before this date."
Section III Executive Director, John Rathbun, released a press release announcing the deal.
"The new four-year contract is neither a win nor a loss for schools or officials, but rather a win for student-athletes, who will now be able to compete with professional officiating this upcoming school year," he said in the release. "The one thing that was abundantly clear through this entire process is the need to recruit and retain officials."
Officials had already begun working games in high school soccer under a "good faith" agreement between the two sides earlier in the week.
High School football for Section III begins on Thursday.