skip navigation

From the Hip: Predictions for this week's significant WIAA Board of Control and Annual Meetings

04/15/2019, 4:00pm CDT
By Travis Wilson

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association has a busy week upcoming, with a Board of Control meeting set for Tuesday afternoon at the WIAA offices in Stevens Point and the membership's Annual Meeting at the Holiday Inn and Convention Center in Stevens Point.

The April Board of Control Meeting is not usually packed with significant drama or intrigue, as there are no sport season regulations to be voted on. However, this year is different, as the Board will be voting on second consideration, and final passage, of the statewide football-only conference realignment proposal currently scheduled to go into effect in 2020.

The Annual Meeting has been a bit tame the last few years, at least compared to the fireworks we saw in 2015 and 2016 centered around the public/private debate, when impassioned speeches, parliamentary maneuvering, and arguments over Robert's Rules of Order were the norm. However, there are a couple hot-button items on this year's agenda that have drawn plenty of interest.

Board of Control Meeting Predictions

As mentioned, this isn't a meeting that usually garners much outside interest or features any controversial topics, but the second consideration of the statewide football-only conference realignment plan for 2020 has generated a significant amount of discussion over the last year. As a reminder of what that plan entails, please click here.

There are 15 schools that have provided letters to the Board of Control at some point either requesting a change or indicating opposition to their placement. Not all of those schools attended the March Board of Control meeting when the proposal was first voted on, and not all of them will be in attendance at tomorrow's meeting.

In more than ten years of covering the WIAA and the realignment process, if a school provides a letter against a plan but does not actually attend the Board of Control meeting and speak in front of the Board, it is usually a sign that they aren't significantly against it, but often just want their objections to be entered into the record. Often, it is a result of community or perhaps school board pressure, while the administration and/or Athletic Director understand the changes.

There are some schools who have voiced significant opposition to the proposal, doing so at the last meeting and expected to do so at tomorrow's meeting. It remains to be seen how many are in attendance.

The Board of Control voted 9-2 to pass first consideration of the proposal at their March meeting. This after the group had voted on the concept of statewide football realignment beginning in 2020, but not an actual plan, in 2018. Since the Board already voted to implement football-only realignment in 2020, they are running out of time do something different, if there are remaining objections to the current WFCA proposal.

There certainly are some challenges facing schools in the current plan, but no plan will make everyone happy. In fact, this plan has been more well-received by the member schools as a whole than almost anyone had expected. The plan lays out options to request relief and those will be reviewed in 2021 for implementation in 2022, when the landscape figures to continue to evolve as schools make the switch to 8-Player Football, enter or exit co-op programs, and perhaps drop football altogether.

While the last vote was 9-2, I believe there is a very strong chance the vote tomorrow will be 11-0 to support passage of this proposal.

WIAA Annual Meeting Predictions

The full list of voting amendments on the Annual Meeting agenda, including advisory votes from the various WIAA committees and executive staff, can be found here. In addition to the Amendments below, there are other editorial changes that generally pass with near unanimous support.

Amendment 1 - Membership

Impact: This is almost more of an editorial change, but does clarify and state that participation in the WIAA tournament series is only available to member schools. It also states that WIAA membership shall not be available to schools that are also members of a different state-wide interscholastic athletic association.

Prediction: Passes with near unanimous support

Amendment 2 - Tournament Hosting

Impact: This would give the Board of Control authority to remove the ability for schools that violate Association rules and regulations from hosting WIAA playoff events.

Prediction: Passes with near unanimous support

Amendment 3 - Cooperative Team Deadlines

Impact: This would align the football co-op deadline with the 8-Player declaration deadline and make the appeals and realignment process easier for the Realignment Task Force that will hear appeals under the 2020 football-only realignment plan expected to pass on Tuesday.

Prediction: Passes with near unanimous support

Amendment 4 - Tournament Entry

Impact: This would align the 8-Player and 11-Player football deadline to declare for tournament entry to December 1st. Currently the fall sports entry deadline is February 1st.

Prediction: Passes with near unanimous support

Amendment 5 - Residence Eligibility

Impact: This would allow immediate eligibility for a transfer player who has never participated in a particular sport via a tryout, practice, scrimmage, or game on a school-based or club-sponsored team. There are several instances each year where a player transfers, often from a large school to a small school, and has never played a sport previously but may have a chance to make the team and contribute at the new school. This would make that transfer legal immediately. Note the "club-sponsored" portion of this; if a student played club sports but not for their local high school and then transferred, they would not be immediately eligible at the new school.

Prediction: Passes with substantial support

Amendment 6 - Residence Eligibility

Impact: This is where things start to get interesting. You could call this the "Nicolet Rule". There was an outcry when multiple high-level boys basketball players transferred in to Nicolet High School last year, with all having a connection based on their club basketball program. The rule change as presented is borrowed from the state of Michigan, where it has been challenged in and upheld in court. The proposed language would make transfers ineligible for one year where the student has a pre-existing athletic relationship with any players, parents, administrators, or coaches at the new school, or received private instruction from a coach, administrator, or parent at the new school or attended summer contact sessions at the new school. This is an attempt to limit "super teams" as well as the outside influences many feel are beginning to control athlete movement and impact teams and schools. 

Prediction: This was a hot topic for discussion at last fall's Area Meetings. I thought coming into those that there would be quite a bit of support for this rule change, but after attending two different Area Meetings in September, I am much less confident. Small schools don't see it enough to make it much of an issue for them; large schools are often the beneficiaries of player movement, which has expanded considerably in recent years, and may be hesitant to try to stop it less it no longer benefit them. I think it will be a close vote either way, and I lean ever-so-slightly to the measure being defeated by a small margin. I could see it brought forward again in the future or in a different format.

Amendment 7 - Code of Conduct

Impact: While it isn't the only instance of it happening, the Deontay Long situation last year at the boys basketball state tournament created a wave of negative publicity for the WIAA. Long had already been convicted of a felony involving robbery and was awaiting sentencing, had not been suspended any basketball games (he sat out two events in the fall cross country season as required by his school's athletic code), and was wearing an ankle monitoring device while playing in the state tournament. There was no WIAA rule to prevent him from playing, as the WIAA largely relies on the member schools to determine their own Code of Conduct penalties and enforcement, with some minor minimum requirements from the WIAA. This would change that, and add language to the WIAA's Code of Conduct to prevent any student charged with or convicted of a felony from participating in regular season or postseason athletic until that player has seen those charges dismissed, the charges/conviction reduced to a misdemeanor, or has served all parts of the sentence (i.e. jail time, community service, probation, etc.).

Prediction: As with the Amendment 6 discussion, I thought this would be a no-brainer of support from the membership but after hearing discussions at last fall's Area Meetings, I've back off that a bit. Some felt that it was unfair to penalize a younger person so severely for their mistakes, some felt that different areas of the state charge for felonies at a higher rate than others, and some felt it was too punitive. I do feel it will ultimately pass, though it won't be a slam-dunk. I'll guess around 55-60% support.

For the latest and most up to date football news and recruiting information, follow Travis on Twitter @travisWSN. Email story ideas, recruiting info, etc. to Travis at travis(at)wissports.net.

Football News

Tag(s): News  News Archive  News  News  News  News  News  News  News  News  Travis Wilson  WIAA  From the Hip