WIAA passes five-division hoop plan, earlier start to football season
By: By Rob Hernandez, The Wisconsin State Journal, Superior Telegram
There will be a fifth division in the WIAA basketball tournament series this winter after a vote Thursday by the WIAA Board of Control during its summer meeting at Green Lake.
The Board voted 10-0 to support the much-discussed, much-debated plan to change the divisional structure of its marquee tournament event for the first time since going to four divisions in 1991.
“It’s time for a change,” WIAA Board member of Mark Gobbler of Luck said, echoing the sentiments of several of his Board colleagues.
The five division model takes effect in the 2010-11 season and reduces the enrollment range in each division to no more than 2:1. Division 1 contains schools with enrollments of 1,200 and more, with Division 2 from 1,199-600. The top 50 percent of schools with enrollments between 600 and 200 are placed in Division 3, and the bottom 50 percent fall in Division 4. Division 5 contains schools with enrollments of 200 and less.
Solon Springs School and Northwood School both fall into the newly created Division 5. Northwestern High School moves from Division 2 to Division 3, and Superior High School remains in Division 1.
Under the new plan, Division 1 schools will play in a “Super Tuesday” game the week of the state tournament. The winner of that game then plays in Madison two and a half days later.
If the Superior Spartans advance to the Super Tuesday round of play, their game will be held at UW-Stevens Point.
The WIAA’s preliminary schedule for the 2010-11 state basketball tournament is as follows: Thursday — Division 5 and 4 semifinals; Friday — Division 3, 2 and 1 semifinals; Saturday — championship games for all divisions. On each day of play, the smallest division will play the earliest games.
WIAA Board of Control president Roger Foegen, who attended every area meeting last fall to personally gauge feedback on the issue, said he believes the five-division plan will be “a shot in the arm” for basketball. Earlier, the WIAA Board heard executive director Dave Anderson report that revenue from the basketball tournaments dropped this past winter over previous years.
The vote followed another layer of committee feedback from the WIAA Advisory Council, an 18-member group of school administrators elected via divisional representations.
That group voted 9-7 against the plan. Later Council member Gordy Sisson of Marshfield said his committee also spoke at length about initiating discussion about representation on the WIAA Board of Control.
Board members are elected based on geographical representation. Sisson said the Advisory Council talked at length about whether that should be changed to a divisional representation, too, in wake of accusations about the Board’s background during the five-division basketball tournament discussion.
Earlier start for football
The end of the prep football season will get a little more breathing room to play three of its most critical games, beginning in 2011, but that's not the only part of the season that will get a new look.
The WIAA Board of Control voted with some reluctance Thursday in favor of a plan that moves the start of the season ahead by five days.
The aim is to eliminate the need for football teams to play three games in 10 days late in the season without reducing the nine-game regular-season schedule.
In 2011, that means schools will be able to distribute equipment on Aug. 3, a Wednesday, and hold their first practice the next day.
Season openers would be played August 18, 19 or 20, meaning that schools would play two games instead of one before the Sept. 1 start date for public schools across the state.
Earlier, the WIAA Advisory Council sided with an option that would have reduced the regular season from nine games to eight. Teams that did not qualify for the WIAA playoffs would still have had the option to schedule a ninth game against another team that did not qualify for the playoffs.
A survey of 335 of the 429 football schools showed that 154 supported starting the season earlier to make room for the three games in 10 days later in the season.
There were 103 in favor of eliminating Week 9 and playing eight regular-season games, while 47 supported moving the WIAA state finals one week later and 31 favored a reduction in the WIAA football playoff field from 224 teams to 112.
There was considerable discussion among Board members about the feedback they have already received about shortening the summer for football players by starting their practices five days earlier.
WIAA executive director Dave Anderson said his staff would continue to monitor feedback and pursue other options that would keep the season from starting earlier than Monday of Week 6 of the WIAA calendar year.
However, the Board vote suggested that members wanted to address the issue of playing three games in 10 days without eliminating a game from the regular-season schedule.
The Superior Telegram contributed to this report.
— Copyright (c) 2010, The Wisconsin State Journal/Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services