The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Board of Control voted in support of its first consideration of a statewide football-only conference realignment proposal at its March meeting today.
The objectives of the plan are to bring uniformity to the number of schools affiliated with a conference and to make certain programs have enough conference games for playoff qualification, as well as to provide a process for schools to request relief from its conference affiliation.
At its January meeting in 2018, the Board directed development of a statewide football-only conference model with the goal to be implemented for the 2020 football season.
“This was an enormous undertaking and groundbreaking for the WIAA,” Executive Director Dave Anderson said. “It may pioneer the future for more WIAA sports going forward.
“We have witnessed the good-faith effort and the openness to alternative ideas, the changes, the ‘big-picture’ thinking, and the final decisions,” he said. “It’s important to keep in mind that at any time there is 100 percent agreement of all impacted members, relief can be fast-tracked. We support the coaches’ plan without hesitation or reservation.”
In the future, football-only realignment will follow the conference realignment procedures approved by the Board at its meeting in January.
“I want to thank the WIAA for the trust and support that has been given to the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association in this collaborative effort,” WFCA Executive Director Dan Brunner said. “I have always felt that the WFCA and the WIAA have had a great working relationship, and this time-consuming and groundbreaking effort has taken our relationship to another level. The end result will be great for football in Wisconsin.”
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 April 10, 2019, to file an appeal of the initial vote. The Board will give final consideration of the plan at its meeting on April 16, 2019, at which time the plan can only be approved or rejected with no modification.
In other Board action, it voted to advance and support seven amendments to the Constitution, Bylaws and Rules of Eligibility to be voted on by the membership at the Annual Meeting on April 17, 2019.
Three of the proposed amendments impact the Constitution. The first would make WIAA tournament opportunities available only to WIAA members that are in good standing. The second would provide the Board of Control the option to remove WIAA tournament hosting opportunities as a disciplinary action for violation of the membership rules and regulations. The third would clarify that co-op requests for football shall meet a December 1 deadline if the football-only conference realignment is approved. In a related measure involving the one amendment for the Bylaws, it clarifies that football (both 11 and 8-player) declarations shall meet the December 1 deadline for football-only conference realignment.
The first proposed amendment to the Rules of Eligibility that was advanced and supported by the Board provides unrestricted eligibility for transfer students who do not have a history of participating in athletics. The second would restrict students who transfer with a pre-existing athletic relationship with anyone at the school to which student is transferring.
The third amendment to the Rules of Eligibility would prevent a student who has been charged and/or convicted of a felony from competing until the student has satisfied all requirements of the court.
The Board received liaison reports from Pam Foegen of the NFHS Board of Directors and Todd Sobrilsky of the Wisconsin Athletic Directors Association. The Board also approved the fall sports season co-ops and the January general fund payments and statements, as well as the January deferred liability fund and fall sports financial statements.
The membership of the WIAA oversees interscholastic athletic programs for 511 senior high schools and 46 junior high/middle level schools in its membership. It sponsors 27 championship tournament series for boys and girls in 2018-19. For more information, please contact the WIAA office at (715) 344-8580.