Polk County School System seeks to purchase PolkSports.com

Published 10:34 pm Thursday, September 17, 2015

Polk County Schools Superintendent Biller Miller detailed plans to acquire ownership of PolkSports.com in September’s board of education meeting.

The website, which focuses on all ages of Polk County athletics, is currently owned and operated by Andy Rhinehart.

Rhinehart is a former award-winning sports writer and editor at several newspapers in North and South Carolina. He also founded GoUpstate.com, the Web site of the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, and ran it for nearly a decade.

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“We’ve been in discussions with him over the last couple years about how we can use him and take advantage of what he’s doing,” said Miller. “It never really worked out for him or us budget-wise.”

“It’s evolved now to a point that we really want to do it,” he added.

According to Miller, the lack of a dedicated communications officer makes keeping the school-operated website up to date a challenge. The system has been without one for the past five years.

The popularity of recent articles posted to PolkSports.com prompted Miller to approach Rhinehart.

With the permission of the board of education, Miller will attempt to nail down a contract with Rhinehart to obtain ownership of the Polk Sports domain and it’s subsequent social media outlets.

On top of the website, Rhinehart manages Facebook, Instragram, Twitter and YouTube accounts, all under the name “Polk Sports”.

Should Miller’s plan come to fruition, Rhinehart will become an employee of the school system. He will continue to write articles for the website and manage social media.

“We don’t have the personnel in place to do what needs to be done with Facebook and Twitter,” said Miller. “This is a way to get into that game, and like it or not, it’s the way the modern parent gets their information. They don’t really get it any other way.”

Rhinehart has maintained the website as a hobby since its creation in September of 2013.

“Its easy to set out and say ‘lets have a website’, and act like it doesn’t take any time, but in reality it does,” said Miller. “Young people don’t expect stuff on the website about three months ago, they expect stuff that’s about today and tomorrow.”

With this partnership, Polk County acquires a website that has already amassed a large following and a guarantee that it will continue operating. While discussions are ongoing, Miller estimated a $12,000 to $14,000 stipend that will be paid to Rhinehart each year.

“We feel like this is the most economical way to get back in the business of being in control of our own message, without having the expense of hiring a new full-time employee during a time when we are still struggling to keep our teacher assistants,” said Miller.


Miller, in anticipation of working out a deal, recently purchased the domain name – PolkStudents.com, which will serve as an academic counterpart to PolkSports.com

While the latter focused on sports in the past, Rhinehart did occasionally produce academic related articles. According to Miller, they are some of his most popular.

“In the big picture, I think this is a really good thing that will be beneficial in getting information out to people,” said Miller.

PolkSports.com’s popularity will be used to kick-start the academic website. Miller believes the Polk Sports following will find its way over to Polk Students, which will have its content provided by Rhinehart as well.

“You can’t undervalue his ability to write,” said Dave Sherping, Technology Director for Polk County Schools. “He took things about our test scores that nobody wanted to read and turned into an article that you actually want to.”

While meetings and discussions continue, Miller expects an agreement to be reached in the coming months.

CORRECTION: Friday, Sept. 18, 9:45 a.m.
According to Andy Rhinehart he will not become an employee of the school system, but rather a vendor with a contract with Polk County Schools.