In a move counter to what many schools have adopted across the country, Aberdeen High School in Maryland has turned down a donation from two professional football players.
Minnesota Viking players and brothers E.J. and Erin Henderson are Aberdeen High alumni. They offered to donate $20,000 to pay for a portion of the cost for a new football scoreboard, but the school said, "no thanks."
The current scoreboard is dull, outdated and hard to read, WJZ reports. A new one would cost the school around $50,000. In exchange for their donation, the Hendersons requested that their family name be displayed on the new scoreboard.
But Aberdeen officials declined the Hendersons' offer, citing school policies on advertising and naming rights of athletic property and facilities, according to a statement the school issued to WJZ.
"It's like a slap in the face, honestly," Erin Henderson told WJZ. "Here we are thinking we can try to do something big, trying to give back to the community. Trying to do something positive to help out the people who helped us out in different ways when we were growing up and coming up. We saw this opportunity."
There's also some confusion over the pro athletes' intentions as well as what the naming process would imply, as some officials interpreted the Hendersons' request as one to name the entire school football field after them, according to a report by The Aegis.
Now, community members are asking that the school and Harford County Board of Education reconsider.
"It's a good topic and I think it merits further discussion, hopefully as a group, and make a good decision on it," Board of Education Vice President Rick Grambo told The Aegis.
The board's decision is a departure from a recent trend in districts across the country, as schools are beginning to actively seek ways to generate revenue through advertisements and sponsorships.
Two years ago, high school teacher Jeb Harrison started selling ad space on his tests and handouts -- by striking a deal with a local pizza shop.
This year, parents of Jefferson County's elementary schools in Colorado will receive a new edition of their children's report cards this year: at the bottom will be printed an advertisement for a nonprofit education savings plan. The ad contract is expected to bring in $90,000 over three years. The district also has a three-year marketing contract with a local bank that advertises on the district's school buses, at an estimated profit of $500,000 over four years.
In Pennsylvania, the Bucks County Pennsbury School District unveiled a plan last month to post more than 200 advertisements across its 16 schools that will cover walls, floors, lockers, benches and cafeteria tables, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The campaign is expected to generate $424,000 for the schools to help offset the district's $3 million budget shortfall.
The issue of school ads and sponsorships, however, is seeing mixed reviews. For some schools, corporate sponsorship in athletics or food products has long been institutionalized, but a recent report warns that this type of marketing could harm students by discouraging them from thinking critically about the brands, messages or topics sponsored in their schools.