STEVENS POINT – The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) held both its Board of Control and members’ Annual Meeting last week.
The Board of Control, meeting on Tuesday, April 24, approved three conference realignment plans and issued a one-year moratorium on conference realignment requests.
The Board moved to implement a football-only realignment consideration for southwest Wisconsin that was amended at its January meeting and given initial approval in March. The plan impacts seven conferences and 48 schools, and will be in effect beginning in 2019. The Board also gave its final approval of a plan that moves Alma/Pepin cooperative into the Dairyland Conference for all sports beginning in the fall of 2019, as well as a proposal that moves St. Croix Falls from the Lakeland Conference to the Heart O'North Conference for only football beginning in the fall of 2019.
In other action related to conference realignment, the Board approved an executive staff recommendation to place a one-year moratorium on conference realignment with the exception of requests that receive the complete support of all schools impacted by the plan. During the suspension of requests, the membership and executive staff will collaborate on a different and viable process to address school placement in conferences.
The Board also ratified an agreement with The Appleton Baseball Club, Inc., that extends the use of Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium for the State Spring Baseball Tournament through 2028. Fox Cities Stadium, built in 1995, seats 5,900 and is owned by the Fox Cities Sports Authority, a non-profit organization in the Fox Cities area. The stadium serves as home of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, which was the Class A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners and later became an affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2009. The State Spring Baseball Tournament has called Fox Cities Stadium its home since 1998.
The membership of the WIAA passed four amendments to its Constitution, Bylaws and Rules of Eligibility at the 2018 Annual Meeting held on Wednesday, April 25.
The membership voted 393-10 in favor of the amendment that adds expectations for all new members and members that discontinued their membership in the association and seek to rejoin. The new regulation requires applicants to sponsor and have administrative oversight of at least one boys and one girls sport in each of the three sports seasons. In addition, the amendment expands the probationary period for any new applicants to three years and replaces the one-year probationary status of the former language. The former rule stated new schools applying for membership need just one independently sponsored sport program for one year. Furthermore, schools applying for membership are now required to have representation at an Area Meeting and at the Annual Meeting during each year of their three-year probationary status. Failure to comply with the requirements at any time during the probationary period will require a reset of the application and probationary period.
The assembly of members also ratified a provision that permits schools that miss the cooperative team request deadline an opportunity to participate as a co-op during the regular season only. The co-op, and the schools comprising the co-op, will remain ineligible to participate in the respective sport season’s State tournament series. The membership approved the amendment by a 377-28 vote. The former language stated co-op requests received after the deadline were not considered for the ensuing regular season or tournament series. Member schools missing the deadlines were only permitted to form junior varsity co-op teams with approval by their local school boards. The deadlines for submitting varsity co-op team requests are February 1 for the following fall sports season, April 1 for winter sports and June 1 for spring sports.
Two amendments related to the Rules of Eligibility were approved by the membership. The first aligns the language of the residency rule with the language stated in the transfer rule. At the 2016 Annual Meeting, the membership voted to provide non-varsity eligibility to students transferring before or during their fifth or sixth semesters following entry into ninth grade.
Prior to the membership’s action on the amendment today, 11th and 12th graders who did not meet the residency requirements were ineligible for interscholastic competition. With the new provision, students in the 11th grade will be granted non-varsity eligibility if they fail to meet the membership’s residency requirements, which will parallel the eligibility provided for transfers occurring prior to the end of their sixth semester. The proposal was passed by a 396-9 membership vote.
The second amendment passed in the Rules of Eligibility requires students, who report late to the school team because of participation in a non-school competition, to forfeit their opportunity to utilize their two school-approved, non-school competitions. The membership supported the action by a 384-16 vote.
The editorial changes, which are attempts to clarify existing rules without making changes in the interpretations of the rules, passed 398-3. Federation of State High School Associations Board of Directors and will continue to serve the WIAA membership as a NFHS liaison to the Board in 2018-19. Elected members of the Board of Control serve a three-year term.
The Board authorized a special election for the gender at-large and nonpublic school at-large positions on the Council for 2018-19 at its April meeting yesterday. No candidates declared candidacy for the positions during the initial declaration period.