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WIAA rejects pre-existing athletic relationship proposal, approves Felony Rule at Annual Meeting

04/17/2019, 4:45pm CDT
By Travis Wilson

From the WIAA --

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association conducted its 124th Annual Meeting at the Holiday Inn and Convention Center in Stevens Point on Wednesday, April 17.

Among the topics on the Association’s business meeting agenda were seven proposed amendments the Constitution, Bylaws and Rules of Eligibility. Six of the seven were passed into rule by the membership assembled at the meeting.

Three of those six amendments impact the Constitution, one is Bylaw-related and two are associated with the Rules of Eligibility.

The first amendment to the Constitution passed mandates only WIAA members that are in good standing are eligible for the State Tournament Series. Schools belonging to another statewide athletic association are prohibited from participation in the Tournament Series. The corresponding language in the Bylaws would also prohibit any regular-season competition against nonmember schools that are eligible for membership but elect not to join, or against any member high school not in good standing. The membership approved the amendment by a 379-8 vote.

The second Constitutional amendment supported by the membership adds a disciplinary alternative to the already existing penalties for rule violations. It adds denying hosting opportunities in WIAA State Tournament Series to the list of penalties imposed for violating Association rules and regulations. The amendment serves as an intermediate step between placing schools on probation and removing them from State Tournament Series participation. If necessary, the Board of Control may strip schools of their opportunities to host tournament events for up to one year. The membership approved the action by a 385-3 vote.

The third amendment added to the Constitution mandates a Dec. 1  every even-numbered year as the deadline for football-only conference realignment requests after the football-only conference realignment was approval by the Board on April 16. This date provides the opportunity for the newly formed Conference Realignment Task Force to address requests on the prescribed timeline for review and implementation. The proposal was passed by a 380-6 membership vote.

The one amendment to the Bylaws also corresponds with the football-only conference realignment approved by the Board at Tuesday’s meeting. It clarifies that football sponsorship declarations, for both 8-player and 11-player programs, must be made by Dec. 1 in even-numbered years for football-only conference realignment consideration by the Conference Realignment Task Force. This amendment also received approval by the membership with a 385-3 vote.

The first amendment passed impacting the Rules of Eligibility provides unrestricted eligibility to transfer students who have had no previous participation in athletics, regardless if the transfer was made necessary by a total and complete change of residence of the parents.

Student transfers will only receive unrestricted eligibility if they have never participated in a try-out, practice, scrimmage or contest on a school-sponsored team or club, or on any nonschool clubs in a WIAA-recognized sport while attending classes at any school from grades 9-12. The membership approved the amendment by a 370-29 vote.

The second Rules of Eligibility amendment ratified by the membership creates membership-wide uniformity in the code of conduct requirements for student-athletes charged with a felony. If adopted, the change would declare a student, upon being charged and/or convicted of a felony, ineligible for all participation until the student has satisfied all of the requirements ordered by the court in declaring a sentence served, including probation, community service and any other court orders. The membership supported the amendment by a 335-52 vote.

The membership also voted on a number of other editorial changes in the Constitution, Bylaws and Rules of Eligibility. The edits do not change any existing rules or interpretations of the rules. Instead, the editorial changes only serve as clarifications to existing rules or interpretations. The editorial changes were ratified by a 384-3 vote of the membership.

The lone amendment that failed passage was a plan to restrict eligibility for transfer students with a pre-existing athletics relationship with anyone in the school the student is transferring into for one calendar year. The membership voted down the amendment with 150-239 vote.

The Director’s Report apprised the membership of a number of topics, including an update on school safety proceedings, the impact of the membership requirement passed in 2018, an update to the WIAA concussion insurance program, a historical perspective of the evolution of football-only conferences proceedings, the conference realignment task force, the new WIAA website and the awareness of influences on virtual school eligibility.

In addition, the membership was introduced to a number of topics that may lead to discussions at the 2019 Area Meetings this fall. Among those topics shared in the Director’s Report are enrollment counts for single-gender schools used in divisional placements, enrollments for members transitioning from traditional schools to schools offering a residency option, and the purpose and philosophy of extended playing opportunities such as extra games in volleyball, extra halves in basketball, extra periods in hockey, etc.

A special presentation recognized Ashley Stich of Kenosha Tremper, who was the Wisconsin nominee for the 2018-19 NFHS Spirit of Sport Award. Also recognized were the representatives of the 22 schools that received the WIAA Award of Excellence in 2017-18.

In the 2019-20 Board of Control elections, Eric Russell, superintendent at Baldwin-Woodville and current Board secretary, was re-elected for a second term on the Board as the District 1 representative. Bernie Nikolay, superintendent at Cambridge, was re-elected and will serve a second term from District 6, and Phil Ertl, the superintendent at Wauwatosa, was elected to the Board representing District 7. Paul Petersen, the principal at Regis, was elected to the non-public school at-large position on the Board.

Elected members of the Board of Control serve a three-year term.

In the 2019-20 Advisory Council elections, Dan Retzki, associate principal and athletic director at Green Bay Preble, was re-elected for a second term on the Council, and Chris Vanderheyden, the superintendent at Menasha, will serve as large school representatives.

Scott Fritz, principal at Howards Grove, and Greg Doverspike, district administrator at Durand-Arkansaw,  were both elected as a medium school representatives, and Jeff Sauer, principal at Dodgeland, was re-elected to the one remaining year of former Advisory Council member, Ty Breitlow of Chilton, who was no longer eligible to serve following a change in position.

Michael Endreas the district administrator at Spencer, who served on the Advisory Council as a medium school representative, was re-elected to serve as a small-school representative after Spencer changed classification for 2019-20. In addition, Chris Nelson, the principal at Iola-Scandinavia, was elected to a three-year term as a small school representative.

A total of 455 representatives from 392 schools attended the 2019 Annual Meeting. The membership of the WIAA oversees interscholastic athletic programs for 511 senior high schools and 49 junior high/middle level schools in its membership. It sponsors 27 championship tournament series in 2018-19. For more information, visit the WIAA website at www.wiaawi.org or contact the WIAA office at (715) 344-8580.

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