Wichita Force indicate checks finally on way to high school band contest winners

Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 11:09 AM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Update Friday, Oct. 8, 2021: Burrton and Clearwater High School bands now feel like they can finally turn the page on a battle they’ve been fighting for two years.

Burrton High School Band Director Mark Robinson has been contacting the Wichita Force indoor football team repeatedly over the past two years, asking why they haven’t received their promised prize money of $4,000 from a “Battle of the Bands” contest sponsored by the team.

“It’s very important. I mean, the school, they don’t have a large amount of money budgeted for the band programs, so, getting instruments is something that doesn’t happen all that often,” he said. “So, a chunk of money like that would really help us out.”

Clearwater High School was the runner-up in the contest that Burrton won. For that, the Clearwater High School band was promised $1,000. After both schools were left in the dark on collecting the promised prize money, Eyewitness News on Friday received a message from someone with the Wichita Force with a picture showing two envelopes, appearing to contain checks made out to both schools.

BREAKING UPDATE: I just received this picture from someone working for the Wichita Force. They say the checks are in the...

Posted by Hailey Tucker on Friday, October 8, 2021

Update Thursday night, Oct. 7, 2021: As of Thursday night, Burton High School still has not been paid by the Wichita Force. Eyewitness News tried contacting the Force throughout the day Thursday, but as of late Thursday night, had not heard back.

Wichita Force indoor football team owner Jeff Martin appeared on the KFH morning show “Sports Daily” with Force assistant coach Paul Savage and KWCH’s Jacob Albracht on Thursday.

Martin addressed the failure to pay high school bands from Burrton and Clearwater after those schools won contests sponsored by the team.

According to Harvey County Now, the Force owes Burrton $4,000 for winning a Battle of the Bands competition two years ago. Despite frequent requests, Burrton High administration said the school has not been paid. Clearwater is owed $1,000 for finishing second.

“They’ll see (the payments) today,” Martin said on Sports Daily. “I will write a check for each one of those today. At the end of the day, we can talk about turnover and old employees and this, that, and the other, but at the end of the day the buck stops with me.”

Martin went on to say that “it’s all about the kids for us,” and that the missed payments were due to staff and front office turnover within the Force. He said some staff believed the payments had been made when in fact they had not.

“And obviously (the payments) were not made,” Martin said. “We can go through the long and the short of it, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. The buck stops with us and we will take care of it.”

According to Harvey County Now, the Burrton administration had contacted the Force at least 20 times over the past two years. The publication said that those calls were most frequently met with silence, though the Burrton administration claimed payments were sometimes promised.

Martin said he wasn’t informed of the missed payments until “a couple weeks ago,” and that he talked to former Force employees to get more information.

“Unfortunately, in my line of work, there’s quite a bit of turnover,” Martin said.

Martin said that part of the problem was low finances due to COVID, but that a simple oversight was the primary culprit. He said he hasn’t talked to anyone from the schools.

“I was of the understanding that all bills were paid,” Martin said. “It’s not until you find out and you dive in yourself daily, you’re misled on some things. I can point the finger here, there and everywhere, but at the end of the day it’s pointed at me.”

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