Sports might still be at a standstill in Wisconsin, but the state’s high school association made several important decisions that will affect future seasons.
The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Board of Control on Wednesday, June 24, reviewed and acted on coaches committee recommendations impacting winter sports and other rule and budget considerations in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following school closures in March due to the pandemic, the Board voted unanimously to allow a school option to defer academic eligibility grade requirements for all students until the first grading period of the 2020-21 school year.
Another Board decision in response to COVID-19 extends the window one week to use the coaches’ five unrestricted contact days for this summer only. This allows 11-player football coaches unrestricted contact through Aug. 1.
Following the cancellation of the 2020 state basketball tournaments and all spring sports, the Board approved a number of Executive Staff recommendations to increase revenue and contain expenditures in 2020-21. All regional, sectional and state tournament ticket prices will be increased $1. State tournament school mileage reimbursements for team and individual travel will decrease 50 cents per mile for 2020-21 only, and the regional and sectional host revenue sharing percentage will be decreased by 5% for one year only.
Arguably the most momentous news to come out of the meeting was the Board’s decision to sanction a girls individual state wrestling tournament starting in 2022. Girls and boys will be permitted to wrestle each other during the regular season, but the state tournament series will be gender exclusive.
The Board unanimously passed the measure 10-0 just a day after the WIAA Advisory Council voted 13-2 to not add girls wrestling as a sanctioned sport in 2020-21.
Beginning in 2021, Trackwrestling.com will be used to randomly place sectional champions on the state individual tournament brackets in all divisions, with the second- and third-place sectional finishers placed on the opposite half of the bracket.
For boys and girls basketball, the Board unanimously approved implementing a computerized seeding system for the state tournament series. The system will be developed by the WIAA with the goal to have it available in 2021 and no later than 2022.
In hockey, the Board unanimously approved retaining a two-division state tournament series indefinitely. Also approved was a recommendation for the boys hockey state tournament to involve the head coaches of qualifying teams for both divisions to determine seeds for each division beginning in 2021.
Changes to hockey’s overtime will also be implemented next season.
There will be an eight-minute, sudden victory overtime period followed by a five-minute three-on-three period during the regular season. If no winner is determined after the two overtime periods, the game is recorded as a tie.
In a tie following regulation during the postseason, an eight-minute sudden victory overtime period will be played. If no victor is determined, the ice will be resurfaced followed by a 17-minute sudden victory overtime period. If a winner is still not determined, a five-minute, four-on-four sudden victory period will be played, and then a five-minute, three-on-three sudden victory period if necessary. If a winner remains undecided, a 17-minute, three-on-three sudden victory period will be played after a resurfacing of the ice.
The Board unanimously denied two other hockey recommendations.
One proposed to split the boys’ two divisions to a 50/50 split based on enrollment. Currently, the 32 smallest enrollments are Division 2, and the remaining are D1.
The other proposal was to require four-member officiating crews for all sectional final and state tournament games.