Posted on

Board approves more winter sports changes at June meeting

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) Board of Control reviewed and acted on several coaches committee recommendations impacting winter sports and other rule and budget considerations in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic during its June 24 virtual meeting.

Hockey action

Two significant items regarding boys hockey came out of the meeting.

One takes the “experiment” language out of the existing regulations for the state tournament series retains the twodivision post-season format indefinitely.

The 2019-20 season had been the start of a two-year experiment for the two-division format. Prior to last winter, hockey has been a one-division sport since the WIAA established its state tournament in the 1970-71 season. While there was discussion about a 50% split of the teams between each division, the format of last year remains where only the 32 smallest programs will be in Division 2 and the rest will be in Division 1.

The other major item involved changes to the overtime rules.

The recommendation supported by the Board of Control implements an eight-minute, sudden victory overtime period followed by a five-minute threeon- three period during the regular season. If no winner is determined after the two overtime periods, the game is recorded as a tie.

In a tie following regulation during the tournament series, an eight-minute sudden victory overtime period will be played. If no victor is determined, the ice will be resurfaced followed by a 17-minute sudden victory overtime period. If a winner is still not determined, a fiveminute, four-on-four sudden victory period will be played and then a five-minute, three-on-three sudden victory period if necessary. If a winner remains undecided, a 17-minute, three-on-three sudden victory period will be played after a resurfacing of the ice. Medford head coach Galen Searles said the divisional issue was the item that interested him most.

“I don’t see the overtime rule as really being significant,” he said Thursday. “The two-division thing interested me more because if it went to 50-50, we could be playing schools even bigger than Superior in the tournament.”

Medford lost its Division 2 playoff opener in February 8-0 to Superior, which was the largest school in the division, just ahead of Waunakee. Medford’s 2020-21 eight-team sectional bracket remains unchanged from last year and includes Superior, defending champion Rice Lake, New Richmond, Hayward, the Amery Co-op, the Chequamegon Co-op and the Frederic-Grantsburg Co-op.

Also approved was a recommendation for the state boys tournament to involve the head coaches of qualifying teams for both divisions to determine seeds for each division beginning in 2021.

Basketball seeding

For boys and girls basketball, the board approved implementing a computerized seeding system for the state tournament series. The system will be developed by the WIAA with the goal to have it available in 2020-21, and no later than 2021-22. This action will require members designated as the home team to enter the scores of all their regular-season games into the WIAA Score Center database purposes starting in the 2020-21 season.

Similarly, a computerized seeding system is expected to begin in football this fall.

Gymnastics changes

Three gymnastics recommendations received approval. One eliminates the language “multi-school meets involving four or more teams may stop the warmup time for bar and vault changes” from the regulations. Another alters the admissions policy for sectionals and the state team tournament to provide free admissions for a maximum 15 individuals on a team to include competitors, alternates, coaches, managers and other team personnel. The third adds the language to add a safety zone mat, in compliance with National Federation of High Schools vault rules, to the list of equipment required to host the sectional meet.

Cutting costs

In an effort to address the impact on the operational budget following the cancellation of revenue-producing tournaments during the COVID-19 pandemic, the board approved a number of executive staff recommendations to increase revenue and contain expenditures in 2020-21.

All regional, sectional and state tournament ticket prices will be increased $1. In addition, state tournament school mileage reimbursements for team and individual travel will decrease 50 cents per mile for 2020-21 only, and the regional and sectional host revenue sharing percentage will be decreased by 5% for one year only. Furthermore, Sports Advisory Committee meetings and all sport Coaches Advisory Committee meetings will be conducted virtually in 2020-21, and mileage reimbursement for board, staff, committees and officials will be reduced 5 cents per mile.

Odds and ends

Other items of note from the June 24 meeting include:

_ In response to the COVID-19 pandemic extends the window one week to use the coaches’ five unrestricted coaching days for this summer only. This allows 11-player football coaches unrestricted contact through Aug. 1 and all other coaches through Aug. 8. The extended period reflects a heightened emphasis on acclimatization for the health and safety for student-athletes.

_ One Medical Advisory Committee recommendation received approval. For grades 6-8, wrestling weight differentials will be 10 pounds up to 100 pounds, 10 percent for 100-200 pounds and 30 pounds for more than 200 pounds.

_ The board ratified spring cooperative programs for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons, and it formally approved the Guidance for Summer Activities provided to the membership, as well as a revision to clarify the Spectator Crowd Control Policies that permit face masks intended for personal health and protection.

_ In recognition of the challenges many students may have experienced with access and adapting to virtual schooling last spring following school closures because of COVID-19, the board voted unanimously to allow a school option to defer academic eligibility grade requirements for all students until the first grading period of the 2020-21 school year.