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09/25/18 – Board of Control Addresses Future Championship Formats and Schedules in Several Sports

September 25, 2018 2018-2019 News Releases

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 25, 2018

The Board of Control conducted its first meeting of the 2018-19 academic year on Thursday, September 20 at the Association offices. Much of the day’s agenda involved ongoing discussion of the future format of several KHSAA championships. Among the action taken, the Board gave tentative approval to transitioning the State Softball and Baseball Tournaments to 8-team single elimination events, with the key provision of re-establishing semi-state play, preferably at non-high school sites. This builds upon last year’s decision to move away from the double-elimination format in Softball, in the interest of player safety and gender participation experience equity.

The tentative plan would transition these championships to 8-team events with first round, semi-state games, rotated in geographic pods and played at a neutral site. The Commissioner and staff were directed to develop site criteria for semi-state games for review at October’s Board meeting, with the goal to ensure quality facilities for hosting those contests. If this tentative plan is implemented, the events would be played during the period of June 5 to June 9.

“The Board has a number of potentially conflicting objectives to consider during its review of the spring championships. District and school administrators have expressed concerns over the travel costs of the current extended baseball format, as well as increasing costs of changing the softball format to where teams play only once, at most twice in a day,” said KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett. “That undoubtedly adds to travel costs as well as their expressed concerns about these events being held, in some cases, three weeks after many schools have ended. In addition, the Board is concerned with all sixteen regional champions having a quality post-region participation experience and members have expressed a strong desire to involve sites outside of our member schools. While several of our member schools have outstanding facilities, it simply isn’t the same as a collegiate or comparable facility so we will be working to determine the feasibility of varying alternatives for sites after the region.

“The participation experience of the students at the final state round is also a key factor the Board has been reviewing. We need to make the participation experience of those two events more comparable to each other, including facilities for both the participants and their fans, while also acknowledging there will always be disagreement when formats are reviewed. It is likely, and expected, that coaches and others will generally focus on what is best for their program and that always creates a difficult challenge for the Board to balance the opinions of coaches, administrators, and others while prioritizing a positive participation experience for the students.”

The Board also discussed a variety of matters related to other championships including establishing a time schedule for the 2018 Commonwealth Gridiron Bowl, and continued discussion around potential changes in the time schedules for both the Track & Field and Swimming & Diving State Meets.

The Board approved the Commissioner’s proposed schedule for the game times for the 2018 Commonwealth Gridiron Bowl at Kroger Field. The games, with tickets to go on sale in the coming weeks, will be played in the following order:

  • Friday, November 30: 1A – 2 PM, 3A – 7 PM
  • Saturday, December 1st: 2A – 1 PM, 4A – 4:30 PM, 6A – 8:00 PM
  • Sunday, December 2nd: 5A – 2 PM

In an effort to alleviate overcrowding and fire marshal concerns at the Swimming & Diving State Meet, the Board gave its endorsement to a recommendation from staff to restructure the event so that same-gender prelims and finals in swimming would be contested on the same day. The proposed change will hopefully help address concerns with overcrowding on the pool deck, while also helping to contain the crowd and not refuse admission to patrons desiring to enter. The schedule will be distributed to the membership for review.

More than ten years ago, the Board of Control approved a recommendation to bring additional competitors to the State Track & Field Meet, while also eliminating prelims in the sprint (400 meters or less) events and changing all contested events to a “timed final”. The decision was made at the time as the alternative that would 1) eliminate what was nearly required overnight travel for most schools with the old format, 2) allow for 24 entrants in each event, and 3) complete the meet in two days.

Since then, the Commissioner and staff have continually worked to review alternatives for returning to prelims in those sprint events, which are the norm in Track & Field, while also avoiding additional overnight travel and hotel costs for most schools. With the meet viewed as successfully expanding to three days in 2017, with one class per day, the opportunity to reestablish prelims has presented itself while allowing most teams the ability to return home following the competition with no additional lodging. A time schedule is being developed which would allow the conduct of preliminaries in the sprint events in an early morning session, allow for a break, and then complete the finals in a session later that day, while also dividing the field events across both sessions.

The schedule has also been built to allow for flexibility in the event of a relatively short weather delay, including heat index problems, while also allowing field events to be more spread out through the day, likely to the benefit of some competitors. Staff was directed to review the alternative schedule with the Track and Field Advisory Committee, as well as those individuals that help manage the State Meet, and report back to the Board for a final decision to be made at the October meeting.

“For many years, we had the prelims and finals but that format was over consecutive days and many of our senior administrators were extremely concerned about travel costs. I have worked with our track contacts and our internal staff for several years to try and reinstitute prelims in our track events while at the same time, allowing for the increased participation that our membership desired when we shifted to 24 competitors [from 16] per event,” said Tackett. “We believe this format will work but want to be sure one more time that the time schedule will work for our teams. This may force coaches to make new strategic decisions with regard to utilizing athletes, but we know that this can be accomplished.”

In other action Thursday, the Board:

  • Had preliminary discussion on the implementation of a 15-run rule in Baseball (after three innings) and the future consideration of restricting kick-offs in Football at the non-varsity level.
  • Authorized the Commissioner to finalize the contract extension with Spalding as the official ball in baseball, basketball, football, and softball (Dudley) and negotiate the inclusion of other balls if prior contract provisions are adhered to by Spalding.
  • Directed the Commissioner to consult with the KMA Medical Aspects of Sports Committee / KHSAA Sports Medicine Committee for an official recommendation on the allowance of helmets to be worn by teams in the offseason during workouts on campus with no other school present.

– KHSAA –

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 280 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.

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