Serving Kentucky's Schools and Student Athletes Since 1917

07/18/17 – Board of Control Mandates Face Protection in Softball

July 18, 2017



The Board of Control conducted its first organizational meeting of the 2017-18 academic year July 14-15 at the Hotel Covington in Northern Kentucky. Over the course of its two-day meeting, the Board took a progressive step in the area of student-athlete safety by approving a recommendation from staff to mandate the use of face protection in softball for pitchers, first basemen and third basemen. The Board’s action, which follows the recommended use of protective headgear in July of 2014, makes Kentucky the first state to require face protection in high school softball, and continues the KHSAA’s willingness to be at the forefront in regards to player safety, as the Association implemented a pitch count in baseball one year before it was approved at the national level.

The KHSAA submitted a proposal to amend the NFHS playing rules at the 2017 NFHS Summer Meeting (June 28-July 2), but the recommendation was not approved nationally. The new requirement will go into effect at all levels of play among KHSAA member schools with the upcoming 2018 season. A specific model or brand was not specified, but all face protection equipment must to be worn as intended by the manufacturer in order to comply with NFHS rules. It will also be recommended for immediate implementation to the Middle School Advisory Committee when that body meets during the 2017-18 school year.

“While I was disappointed with the NFHS Rules Committee action in not approving the proposal, it was not altogether surprising as there will always be disagreement when required equipment issues are debated. However, we cannot sit idly by any longer when obvious solutions exist to protect the young ladies in the Commonwealth who want to play this great and continually growing game where the talent and ability levels continues to improve,” said KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett. “The marketplace will guide folks through the many already existing alternatives for face protection, along with the rules book requirement across the board in all NFHS sports that require equipment to be worn as intended by the manufacturer.

“I am thankful our Board decided to act now rather than wait until the issue reaches critical mass and other entities find themselves in the position of needing to be reactive rather than proactive in this area. Our experience the last few years has left us with multiple anecdotal and documented reports of incidents within our state that leave us no option but to leave our national rules making body behind in terms of waiting for change. Our students deserve only the best protection decisions that we, as rules and policy makers, can develop. It is also unfortunate that our Board’s proactive recommendation from 2014 to the member schools was not universally implemented by the school systems, schools, coaches, parents and student participants as perhaps those groups felt the need for a higher body to make the rule a requirement. If that was the case, they need wait no longer.”

The Board also addressed details for several state championship events, finalizing dates and sites for Football, Field Hockey and Bowling. The quarterfinals of the State Field Hockey Tournament were awarded to Assumption High School and will be held Saturday, October 21. The Semifinals and Finals will move to Christian Academy-Louisville on Monday, Oct. 23 and Wednesday, Oct. 25, respectively. For 2018 and 2019, the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals will be held at Christian Academy-Louisville. Following the closing of Collins Eastland Lanes in Lexington, the KHSAA State Bowling Tournament will return to Executive Strike & Spare in Louisville, where it was contested in 2012 and 2013, on February 8-9.

The time schedule for the 2017 Russell Athletic/KHSAA Commonwealth Gridiron Bowl was finalized over the weekend, with the Board approving the following recommendation from the Commissioner:

Friday, Dec. 1 – Class 1A, 2 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 1 – Class 3A, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 2 – Class 2A, 1 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 2 – Class 4A, 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 2 – Class 5A, 8 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 3 – Class 6A, 2 p.m.

The Board also finalized the cross-bracketing playoff pairings in football for Class 2A, 3A and 4A, adopting the recommended pairings available at on the KHSAA website at

The Track & Field/Cross Country alignment was approved for 2017-18 through 2020-21 (click here to view), with an adjustment to the Cross Country competition rules made regarding the number of teams advancing to state per region. The new system continues to base the number of state qualifiers on the number of full teams entered at the regional meets, but reduces those numbers required and therefore could prevent a member school from being moved out of the proper geographic location solely for the purpose of ensuring a predetermined amount of regional qualifiers.

After a thorough internal review over the last several months, staff presented its 2017 through 2022 Strategic Plan for adoption by the Board of Control. The revised strategic plan seeks to build upon and expand strides made by the Association in the areas of participation, inclusion and student-athlete safety, among many other goals.

Staff also presented a schedule for its Region Workshops for Board review, with the sites and dates as follows:
Tuesday, August 22 – KHSAA Office
Wednesday, August 30 – Valley High School
Tuesday, September 5 – Russell High School
Thursday, September 7 – Marshall County High School
Friday, September 8 – Warren East High School
Monday, September 11 – Collins High School
Tuesday, September 12 – Letcher County Central High School
Friday, September 15 – Dixie Heights High School

In other action, the Board:

  • Confirmed a working budget for the 2017-18 academic year
  • Finalized its meeting schedule for the upcoming year, moving its next meeting to September 28th at the KHSAA Office
  • Conducted its first meeting under President Jerry Wyman, Director of Academics, Activities and Athletics for the Jefferson County Public Schools; and President-elect Donna Bumps, Principal at Muhlenberg County High School. The Board also welcomed new members Reed Adkins, Superintendent of Pike County Schools; Bonnie Barnes, Lead Guidance Counselor at Henry Clay High School; Trent Lovett, Superintendent of Marshall County Schools; Lucy Moore, Instructional Supervisor at the Rowan County Schools and Kirby Smith, Superintendent of Campbellsville Independent Schools.


About the Kentucky High School Athletic Association
The Kentucky High School Athletic Association was organized in 1917 and is the agency designated by the Kentucky Department of Education to manage high school athletics in the Commonwealth. The Association is a voluntary nonprofit 501(c)3 organization made up of 281 member schools both public and private. The KHSAA sanctions 44 state championships in 13 sports and 5 sport-activities, licenses and trains over 4,000 officials, provides catastrophic insurance for its more than 70,000 member school student-athletes, as well as overseeing coaching education and sports safety programs.