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Conference Re-Alignment Moves Ahead At WIAA Meeting

Conference realignment was the biggest topic addressed at yesterday’s WIAA Board of Control meeting in Stevens Point. The Packerland Conference will see no changes to member schools. However, Olympian/Packerland Conference football will look different next year.

Wrightstown will join Denmark and Luxemburg-Casco in the new Eastern Valley Conference. Others in the EVC include Clintonville, Fox Valley Lutheran, Freedom, Little Chute and Waupaca (except football) with Marinette and Oconto Falls jumping from the Bay Conference, creating a 10-school league.

Other changes to the football conference will include the revised eight-team Eastern Wisconsin Conference. Current members Kiel, New Holstein, Sheboygan Falls and Two Rivers will be joined by newcomers Brillion, Chilton, Roncalli and Valders from the Olympian Conference. The realignment also adds Oneida Nation to the Marinette and Oconto Conference, making it a 10-team league that also includes Coleman, Crivitz, Gillett, Lena, Niagara, Peshtigo, St. Thomas Aquinas, Suring and Wausaukee.

Finally, the Central Lakeshore Conference will welcome a number of Olympian Conference members to form a 14-team league consisting of Cedar Grove-Belgium, Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah, Hilbert, Howards Grove, Kohler, Manitowoc Lutheran, Mishicot, Oostburg, Ozaukee, Random Lake, Reedsville, St. Mary Central, Sheboygan Area Lutheran and Sheboygan County Christian.

The biggest issue for the Packerland Conference is football. Gibraltar, Sevastopol and N.E.W. Lutheran all play eight-man football. That leaves just five teams to play four games. The non-conference schedule will become increasingly important or teams may end up playing each other twice (which seems highly unlikely).

The Green Bay area realignment plan implemented by the Board impacts 76 schools in eight conferences. It reduces the Bay Conference to an eight-team league consisting of Green Bay East, Green Bay West, Menasha, New London, Seymour, Shawano, West De Pere and Xavier. Waupaca would be added for football only, making it a nine-team conference for football.

The move of Green Bay East and Green Bay West to the Bay Conference reduces the Fox River Classic to a 10-team conference including Ashwaubenon, Bay Port, De Pere, Green Bay Preble, Green Bay Southwest, Manitowoc Lincoln, Notre Dame, Pulaski, Sheboygan North and Sheboygan South.

Another conference is created that includes Campbellsport, Kewaskum, Plymouth and Waupun from the Eastern Wisconsin Conference; Berlin, Ripon and Winneconne from the Eastern Valley Conference; and Kettle Moraine Lutheran from the Wisconsin Flyway Conference to form a new eight-team league.

The composition of the Packerland Conference remains unchanged. In addition–with the exception of Kettle Moraine Lutheran moving to a different conference–the Wisconsin Flyway Conference remains intact with the addition of St. Lawrence Seminary to maintain an eight-school structure in the sports that school sponsors.

In other conference realignment proceedings, the Board approved the first consideration of a plan to move Wonewoc-Center from the Scenic Bluff Conference to the Ridge and Valley Conference for football only, effective in 2015.

Membership rules required a 40-day window for schools involved in realignment plans to appeal the first consideration of the Board before it takes final action. Thus, schools have until March 7, 2014, to file an appeal of the Board’s initial vote. The Board is scheduled to take final action on the plan at its April 15 meeting.

Football registered the most recommendations and changes to rules, regulations and scheduling. The Board approved an acclimatization plan that defines mandatory protocol for length and scheduling of pre-season and in-season practices beginning in 2014. It also increases the number of required practices for the gradual acclimation to full practice equipment.

Language in the football playoff qualifying criteria was altered to replace winning percentage of all games with the winning percentage in conference play only when the initial criteria to determine the field is less than 224 teams beginning next fall. In addition, the highest seeded team will now host through Level 3 of the playoffs with the stipulation that the WIAA?reserves the final authority to determine locations.

The running clock guidelines have been modified to address point differentials of 35 points or more after the first quarter. With mutual consent of the participating coaches, running clock provisions may be implemented beginning at the start of the second quarter.

A change to the method used by the WIAA in identifying and declaring available playoff facilities was also supported by the Board. In 2014, schools will automatically be placed on the list of available facilities if they are on the approved site list. Notification to the WIAA is only required when there is a change to the approved facilities status. The Board also approved a requirement for all playoff game tape exchanges to be completed by 12:01 a.m. Sunday following the last game, and those coaches without HUDL must supply DVDs of game video.

Two other decisions involve eight-player football. The Board agreed to implement a 16-team Tournament Series one year following a season with 30 or more programs sponsoring 8-player teams, and to allow a 100-yard field size when using neutral sites.

There are three changes to the soccer regulations. The boys soccer season will start and end one week later beginning in the fall of 2015, and the regional dates will be moved from a Tuesday/Thursday schedule to Thursday/Saturday. A waiver will be sought from the NFHS to experiment with 45 minute halves and eliminate the overtime during the regular season at the varsity level only. The Tournament Series will play 45 minute halves and two full 10-minute overtimes with no sudden victory. If a winner is not determined after two overtime periods, penalty kicks will break the tie.

A measure was also passed to require all seed meetings to be conducted face-to-face with the condition that if a school is 80 miles or further from the seed meeting site–which is also designated as the sectional final site–it may participate through electronic means.

Three changes that impact tennis include a mandate that once a team score reaches four points to determine a victor, a match tie-break for all remaining matches will be implemented. Another modification adjusts the order of play on Thursday of the State Individual Tournament to allow Division 1 to finish its scheduled singles and doubles matches before Division 2 matches begin. The third rule added allows coaching during any changeover–except after the first game of a set–for a maximum of 90 seconds.

The two changes for volleyball beginning in 2014 include an allowance for a sixth set emergency waiver for programs sponsoring only two levels and have less than 16 players between the two teams. Approval of the waiver from the conference and the WIAA will be required. In addition, all officials are now required to supply the line judge flags for their matches.

Both golf and swimming and diving had one recommendation from the coaches’ committees, and both were approved. In golf, the designated playoff holes at the girls and boys State Golf Championships will be hole one and hole nine beginning in the spring on 2014. Players will continue to play the two holes in succession until the tie is broken, In swimming and diving, an individual’s or relay team’s best time during the current season is required as the sectional entry times.

In addition to the sport specific recommendations approved by the Board, an Executive Staff recommendation to require coaches to report all player or coach game ejections to their school administration within 48 hours following the respective contest was passed. The measure also requires school administrators to submit a written report of the ejection to the WIAA within three school days following the contest.

In other Board action, a pair of administrative policies were adopted. The first outlines the protocol for requests of information contained on forms and reports submitted to the WIAA executive office. The second provides a complimentary ticket to the athletic director and principal of schools participating in WIAA?State Team Tournaments where space permits.

The Board received staff reports on the possible amendments to the Constitution, Bylaws and Rules of Eligibility to be voted on by the membership in April, as well as, procedural approvals, committee election procedures and possible issues regarding the use of the UW Natatorium for future State Swimming and Diving Championships. In addition, the Board received updates from the liaisons from the Wisconsin Association of School Boards and the Wisconsin Athletic Directors Association.

The membership of the WIAA oversees interscholastic athletic programs for 505 senior high schools and 61 junior high/middle level schools in its membership. It will sponsor 25 championship tournament series in 2013-14. For more information, visit the WIAA website at www.wiaawi.org or contact the WIAA office at (715) 344-8580.

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