WIAA Announces Approved Changes To Fall Sports

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Board of Control approved changes to the fall season regulations at its January meeting today.

Following a review of the recommendations by the Sports Advisory Committee and the Advisory Council, the Board assessed and acted on 39 proposals advanced by the fall coaches’ and officials’ advisory committees with 23 receiving approval.

Seven changes to the football season regulations were ratified by the Board. A number of the changes are associated with qualifying and seeding the playoffs.

Teams will be required to play seven conference games or six conference games with an additional mandated crossover game to be eligible for the playoffs beginning in 2020. The crossover game will count as a conference game for playoff qualifying, and all conference or mandated crossover game forfeits will count as a conference win. Furthermore, the same forfeit language in the 11-player regulations will also apply to the 8-player regulations.

In other 8-player action, all games against teams with enrollment over 200 students will not count toward playoff qualification. Teams with the best overall winning percentage versus schools with a three-year enrollment averaged below 201 with a minimum of four varsity games will be eligible for the playoffs. The other 8-player recommendation to receive Board approval sets Tuesday, Aug. 11 as the earliest date to begin practice in 2020 to allow for an eight-game regular season.

The Board also approved a recommendation to adopt the criteria, formula and results of the final summary for electronic seeding and eliminate coach appeals in 2020. Lastly, elected members of the WFCA Executive Board will be permitted to serve as full voting members if appointed to the Football Advisory Committee.

There were also seven soccer coaches’ recommendations passed by the Board. Three of the changes are directly tournament related and two involve the counting of red and yellow cards relating to playoff eligibility.

The deadline date for all schools in Sectional #1 to vote on the configuration of the Tournament Series grouping will change for 2020-21. For boys soccer, the deadline changes from the traditional August date to May 31, and for girls soccer, the deadline is moved from March to Oct. 31. Another tournament-related rule change declares the higher-seeded team be designated the home team and wear dark uniforms throughout the pre-State Tournament Series. The Executive Staff amended a soccer coaches’ recommendation to require the team season summary information to be submitted on the WIAASeason Summary Form for the seeding meeting for all sports. The Board passed the amended proposal unanimously.

The Board approved a coaches’ recommendation to count a straight red card received during the regular season as two yellow cards toward its limit of 24 yellow cards. Programs receiving 24 or more yellow cards during the regular season is prohibited from participating in the Tournament Series.

In addition, the Board authorized a regulation that removes from the Tournament Series any team receiving five straight red cards for any player who receives three straight red cards during the regular season. 

The Board also passed a recommendation to adjust the pre-game protocol identifying when officials begin their on-site responsibilities to 15 minutes prior the start of the competition with the whistle at seven minutes. The final change grants a soccer coaches’ request to amend language in the season regulations to encourage post-game handshakes.

In volleyball, the Board agreed with a recommendation to add “hosting a multi-team event” as an allowed exception to the language prescribing 20 minutes for pre-match warm-ups. It also struck language in the season regulations that removed the privilege for head coaches to stand if they failed to attend or participate in the seeding meeting.

In girls golf, the Board approved a change in tournament divisional assignments. Beginning in 2020-21, 60 percent of the schools sponsoring the sport are placed into Division 1 with the remaining 40 percent of programs placed into Division 2. In addition, boys and girls golf coaches will be allowed to tend the flag and rake the bunkers to improve pace of play with a stipulation that the allowance may be revoked if abused.

The Board passed a cross country recommendation, amended to include all sports, that edits language addressing teams with only ninth grade students. The new language exclusively references non-varsity teams with only ninth grade students. The other cross country proposal approved prohibits audible music–other than the music used by meet management–and noisemakers at or near the starting line.

Two swimming and diving recommendations were written into the season regulations for 2020-21. Language in the tournament procedures now requires times to be submitted in the hundredths of a second and that the time is from the current school year’s WIAA sanctioned events. The second change requires a signed copy of the results verifying the times for any challenged seed time for swimmers or minimal meet requirements for divers, or have verification of times from the WISCA website.

The only tennis recommendation to receive Board approval allows tournament administration to determine the start time of the championship matches at the State Team Tennis Tournament.

The Board also approved the Officials Advisory Committee recommendation to encourage the handshake at the end of a soccer game. Formerly, boys soccer teams were not permitted to shake hands following a game.

Other topics of discussion included Constitutional amendments and the agenda for the Annual Meeting in April, home school participation and virtual schools, officials assault legislation, hockey game disqualifications, computerized football seeding, Spirit of Sport Award nominations, and Advisory Council and Board of Control elections.

The Board received liaison reports from Mike Thompson of the Department of Public Instruction, Nathan DeLany of the Wisconsin Athletic Directors Association and Pam Foegen of the National Federation of State High School Associations Board of Directors.

The membership of the WIAA oversees interscholastic athletic programs for 512 senior high schools and 46 junior high/middle level schools in its membership. It sponsors 27 championship tournament series for boys and girls in 2019-20. For more information, please contact the WIAA office at (715) 344-8580.

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