Pay to play
Apparently, they thought that for some reason (perhaps insurance) possibly as the result of bad advice from either their lawyers or from the outside person they had hired to help "professionalize" the SCA, they should require membership to attend SCA events.
This did not go over well with the hippy mentality that had been part of SCA culture since the beginning.
The fact that the BoD behaved in a heavy handed and overly paternalistic fashioned only served to exacerbate the situation. There was talk of splitting the SCA into smaller groups, a lawsuit was instituted by some members against the corporation to gain access to the books, impeachment petitions against Board members were circulated.
It was quite a kerfuffle.
Eventually, the BoD backed off. (I believe they lost the lawsuit as well.) They did manage shortly thereafter to institute the Non Member Surcharge, though.
The name, "Pay-to-Play", is a misnomer, since everyone who attends an event "pays" to "play" in the form of site fees and feast fees. The loyal opposition characterized it as a "members-only" policy, but the name "pay-to-play" is the one that stuck.