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WIAA Basketball Coaches Advisory Committee proposes shot clock and revised divisional structure with six D1 teams at state

05/01/2023, 10:15pm CDT
By Travis Wilson

The WIAA's Basketball Coaches Advisory Committee has advanced several proposals from its April 5th meeting that will navigate through the Association's rule-making process, including once again proposing a shot clock for high school basketball and a revised divisional placement plan for the basketball playoffs that includes six Division 1 teams at the state basketball tournament.

There is also a plan for an adjustment to the pre-game officials procedure that would put it in line with NFHS recommendations plus other discussion items that did not result in official proposals, but the re-introduction of plans for a shot clock and redivisioning the playoffs are the big ticket items that have previously and will continue to generate significant discussion and interest.

WSN staff will have more in-depth analysis and coach reaction to these proposals coming up later this week on

Return of the shot clock

The WIAA Basketball Coaches Advisory Committee proposed and the Board of Control passed a shot clock plan in June of 2017, but after negative feedback from schools and administrators, the Board rescinded that decision. Last year the Coaches Advisory proposed limited use of a shot clock in non-conference games, but the measure was voted down at the Advisory Council level and not presented to the Board of Control for a vote.

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), which sets playing rules for high school sports, including basketball, voted to allow the use of the shot clock by state adoption in 2021. At that time, eight states already had the shot clock, meaning they were not in compliance with NFHS regulations, and for the 2023-24 school year, that number will now rise to 20 states that have it in some capacity. That includes Arizona and Nebraska, where it is only in larger classes, and South Carolina, which allows it in invitationals and showcases.

Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association surveys of coaches have shown support of the shot clock overall, with the last survey receiving about 62% support at the coach level. However, a WBCA survey in December got responses at the school and administration level, where of 339 respondents, 45.7% favor the shot clock compared to 54.3% against.

The WIAA Basketball Coaches Advisory Committee proposal is to implement a shot clock in the 2025-26 season, utilizing NFHS shot clock regulations. That would include a 35-second shot clock with two visible timepieces in each gym attached to the backboard supports. Unlike the college game, NFHS rules require a full rest of the shot clock on any offensive rebound, though a kicked ball with less than 19 seconds remaining would reset the shot clock to 20 seconds.

Next up for reviewing the shot clock proposal as well as all the other winter sport tournament adjustments is the WIAA's Sports Advisory Committee, consisting of Athletic Directors, who will provide advisory votes. The Executive Staff will also review and provide advisory votes before it will advance to the WIAA's Advisory Council on June 20th.

Due to a Constitutional change several years ago, the Advisory Council can vote down any proposals, meaning they would not advance to the Board of Control to consider.

If supported at the Advisory Council level, the shot clock and the other proposals would then go to the Board of Control. However, another Constitutional change from a few years ago would add one more step for the shot clock prior to full implementation.

Any season or tournament regulations that add costs to the schools, including the shot clock, must go to the WIAA membership at the Annual meeting for final approval.

If the shot clock was supported at the Advisory Council and Board of Control, it would need to be approved by a simple majority of voting delegates at the next WIAA Annual Meeting in April of 2024.


Beaver Dam, girls team pictured here winning a 2019 state title, is an example of a team that would move from D2 to D1 in the proposed tournament revision plan

Last year, the WIAA Basketball Coaches Advisory Committee advanced a plan that would have revised how divisional assignments are made, created a total of six sectionals in Division 1, and added two Division 1 teams to the state tournament schedule for both boys and girls basketball.

That proposal was defeated at the Advisory Council level and thus not voted on by the Board of Control. However, both groups indicated support for the idea, though with different assignments for schools to divisions.

The Basketball Coaches Advisory Committee's proposal this year is adjusted by assigning the top 96 teams in enrollment to Division 1, the smallest 128 teams to Division 5, and equally dividing the remainder of teams to Divisions 2, 3, and 4. There would be roughly 85-90 teams in each of Divisions 2, 3, and 4 depending on sport and year.

Division 1 would feature six sectionals of 16 teams, while the other divisions would retain a four sectional structure. As a result, two more Division 1 teams would make the state tournament in both boys and girls basketball. Using the computer seeding system, teams in D1 would be seeded one through six, with the top two seeds getting byes into the state semi-finals, while the number three seed would play the six-seed and the four-seed would face off against the five-seed in the state quarterfinals.

Since the WIAA moved to five divisions in 2011, there has been an open session in the state tournament schedule on Thursday morning. By adding two more Division 1 teams to the State Tournament, that Thursday morning session would be able to be filled.

The proposed adjusted state tournament schedule would be as follows:

9:05 am - Division 4 Semifinals
1:35 pm - Division 3 Semifinals
6:35 pm - Division 1 Quarterfinals (3 vs. 6 / 4 vs. 5)

9:05 am - Division 5 Semifinals
1:35 pm - Division 2 Semifinals
6:35 pm - Division 1 Semifinals (1 vs. 3/6 winner -- 2 vs. 4/5 winner)

11:05 am - Division 5 Finals
12:45* pm - Division 4 Finals
2:30* pm - Division 3 Finals 
6:35 pm - Division 2 Finals
8:15 pm - Division 1 Finals

The WIAA Advisory Council will review all basketball proposals at its June 20th meeting, though the group can vote down any or all plans and prevent a vote by the Board of Control on June 21st. Unlike the shot clock plan, the revised divisional placement and six-division proposal does not have to be voted on by the membership to be implemented.

If passed, this plan would have to be applied along with the recently passed Competitive Balance Plan beginning in the 2024-25 season.

About the Author

Travis Wilson serves as the General Manager, Football Editor, and contributing writer for other parts of the site. Wilson was selected as part of the Sports 40 Under 40 list by Coach & AD Magazine and the National High School Athletic Coaches Association for 2019. The Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) named Travis the 2015 recipient of the Dave McClain Distinguished Service Award. He currently serves on the WFCA Executive Board and is a member of the Executive Board of the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association. A graduate of Richland Center High School and Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Travis was a three-sport athlete in high school (football, baseball, basketball), inducted to the Richland Center High School Hall of Fame in 2023, and currently resides in Reedsburg. You can follow him on Twitter at @travisWSN.

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