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Saturday, February 3, 2018

WIAA rejects urban/rural basketball proposal, moves boys volleyball tourney to Green Bay

STEVENS POINT – The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Board of Control voted in opposition to the most recent plan to address competitive equity and approved a number of coaches’ committee recommendations and other action items at its January meeting held this week on Wednesday.

The Board voted 6-5 against a basketball “Rural/Urban” competitive equity plan initiated by the Board. The proposal sought to place schools in Divisions 3, 4 and 5 by enrollment and by U.S. Census data with classification codes based on proximity to urban areas.

Volleyball features the greatest number of changes for the season regulations with six. Highlighting the changes was the Board’s approval to move the Boys Volleyball State Tournament to the Resch Center to coincide with the State Girls Volleyball Tournament in Green Bay for a four-year commitment beginning in 2019. The postseason schedule for regionals, sectionals and state tournament will be announced at a future date.

Two of the changes involve seeding for 2018. The top four teams will be seeded in the Division 1 bracket of the girls state tournament. The eight Division 1 coaches of qualifying teams will determine the seeds with the remaining four teams randomly drawn as opponents, identical to the procedure used for the boys state tournament since 2012. The other seeding-related action permits schools located 80 miles or more from a tournament seeding site the option to participate by live, electronic means without penalty.

The Board voted to adjust the match times of the State Boys Volleyball Tournament to schedule the #2-seeded team’s quarterfinal match at 5:30 p.m. and the #3-seeded team’s quarterfinal match at 8 p.m.

Other volleyball Board action includes recommending the Molten state tournament balls to be used during the WIAA Boys and Girls Tournament Series in 2018, and making them the mandatory volleyballs of the tournament series in 2019.  Another item added to the volleyball season regulations impacts how the maximum allowed contests is calculated for ninth grade and junior varsity schedules. Sub-varsity teams will be allowed to count a multi-school event as either a multiple school competition or as individual matches, not to exceed the season maximum in either of the two categories.

In football, the most significant action is the Board’s support to begin developing a statewide football-only conference model to be presented at next December’s Football Coaches Advisory Committee meeting. The goal of the plan is implementation for the 2020 football season.

For 2018 only, a waiver may be granted to permit the first day of football practice on July 31, which provides for the 14 days of practice mandated prior to a Thursday game in Week 1. The waiver will require the approval of both schools for the game to be played on Aug. 16.

Two of the football recommendations approved by the Board involves 8-player football. A two-year commitment, upon declaration in even years, will be required for schools participating in the 8-player tournament series beginning in 2018. In addition, 8-player programs will be ineligible to participate in the 11-player tournament until the next even year. The Board also upheld the current enrollment requirement to be eligible for the 8-player tournament series. Programs must have a three-year average enrollment of 200 or less in the first year of the two-year commitment. Schools will be allowed to participate in their second year of their commitment even if their average three-year enrollment exceeds 200. 

The fifth football recommendation receiving Board approval reinstates language to the season regulations requiring the exchange of the two most recent game films at every level of the playoffs.

Three Board decisions impact the soccer season regulations beginning in 2018-19. One mandates application of the mercy rule to end the game after 60 minutes if the score differential is 10 goals or more. Another limits personnel in the team box at the state tournament to 35, and the third moves the first round of the boys and girls Division 1 and 2 regional games two days earlier to Tuesday.

In other soccer-related action, the Board approved the renewal of the agreement with Uihlein Soccer Park as host of the State Boys and Girls Soccer Tournaments through 2025. The facility has served as home for the soccer tournaments since 2003-04.

In swimming and diving, the Board supported adding language to the tournament procedures to address substitutions after the meet starts because of injury or illness. A second swimming and diving recommendation approved by the Board will require sectional swimming competitions to start no later than 1 p.m. beginning in 2018-19.

Additionally, a Board-amended Officials Advisory Committee recommendation to reduce the waiting period for coaches to rank officials from 36 hours to 12 hours after contests in all sports was passed.

Addressing requests for conference realignment, the Board gave its final approval to a plan that moves Cameron from the Lakeland Conference to the Heart O’ North Conference for all sports beginning in the fall of 2019. First approval was issued for a plan that moves Alma/Pepin into the Dairyland Conference for all sports beginning in the fall of 2019.

Membership rules require a 40-day window for schools involved in realignment plans to appeal the first consideration of the Board before it takes final action. Thus, schools have until March 12, 2018, to file an appeal of the initial vote. The Board will give final consideration of the plan at its meeting on April 24, 2018.

The Board also amended a football-only realignment consideration for southwest Wisconsin, which impacts seven conferences and 48 schools. The plan will be presented for first consideration by the Board at its March 2 meeting. Details of the amended plan are available in the attached document.

Other topics presented in the executive staff reports to the Board were ongoing social media, marketing and technology efforts, as well as updates on the assistant director position search and the current standing of summer baseball. The Board also received liaison reports from Mike Thompson of the Department of Public Instruction, John Ashley of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards and Jeremy Schlitz of the Wisconsin Athletic Directors Association.

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