Similar to participants in other sports, wrestlers need a referee to monitor what goes on during a match and enforce rules. This applies to wrestlers at the high school level, where referees typically are paid by the match. The fees are set by the state high school athletics governing body or the schools involved.
How Referees Are Paid
Referees involved in high school wrestling usually are paid on a per match or per tournament basis. State athletic agencies or participating schools set the rates. The fact that referees work "per gig," along with the fact that high school wrestling does not take place year-round, makes it hard to compile average yearly salaries. Many high school wrestling referees augment their pay by officiating other sports.
High school wrestling referees must be certified through a formal testing process with their state's athletic agency. The process typically includes a written test of rules knowledge and an evaluation of referee techniques while working a match. The athletic agency keeps records of registered officials and therefore can help schools locate local referees when needed. Although schools may use the same referees at various wrestling meets, the referees are considered independent contractors rather than employees of the state athletic agency or a school.
Examples of Regular-Season Pay Rates
Even though the amount of work a high school wrestling referee does is highly variable, the rates set by the state athletic agencies or individual schools provide a guide for what a wrestling referee can earn. Pay rates can vary for regular-season matches and state tournament competition. For example, the Utah High School Athletics Association set its regular-season rates at $49 per dual meet for varsity wrestling and $35 per dual meet for junior varsity for 2011 and 2012. The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association set a rate of $60 per dual meet, while the Alabama High School Athletics Association recommended $45 per dual meet.
Examples of Tournament Pay Rates
With the Utah High School Athletics Association, the tournament rate is based on the dual meet rates of $49 for varsity matches and $35 for junior varsity. Referees receive the $49 or $35 rate for each of the 14 weight class matches wrestled, divided by the total number of referees assigned to the event. In Alabama, referees earn $210 for a 16-team bracket varsity championship tournament, the highest rate for refereeing high school wrestling in that state. In North Carolina, individual tournaments pay $52 per registered team plus $20 per diem, while the state tournament pays $135 per day plus $25 per diem.