Tier 3 used to have a recruiting advantage over many AAA programs for players who were lower end AAA caliber players. Generally, Tier 3 used to be six to eight thousand dollars per season less expensive.
That financial recruiting advantage is disappearing in a few different ways.
First, Coaches that can recruit competitive players who will pay for good coaching and good programs, do not come with low salaries. A good Tier 3 coach who can fill a roster with paying, competitive players, who moves lots of players on to NCAA D3 will command a salary of seventy to one hundred thousand dollars per year.
That quickly drives the cost of playing Tier 3 to new heights. In this case though, you get what you pay for.
Second, because of a lack of talented player depth and the vacuums created by that and over expansion, players now just sit and wait for the best financial offer.
Because the vacuum is so great, average players receive dozens of offers and they can wait until someone gives them a free ride. Sooner or later someone will because their simply are not enough players.
These two things drive operation costs, and owner risk up. These two items eliminate the recruiting advantage over AAA when AAA can easily show they are moving more players to higher levels of junior hockey.
When you add the additional financial pressure of the franchise fee investment. Owners are scrambling to save the business they were sold and told was a good investment and money making operation.
With ice fees, transportation, equipment and other costs rising more quickly on an annual basis than the gross “tuition” fee’s a team can collect, something has to break.
When you take this issue along with the other two issues described in the previous weeks, you have a three sided attack on the viability of any Tier 3 team in any league.
There are solutions though, and next weeks part four of this series will address those solutions with practical and actually doable fixes.