HHSAA board rejects 3 of 4 major proposals
ILH hangs on to its D-II state berths
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On one hand, it was a proposal that made sense. How could any league with only one D-II team claim an automatic state tournament berth?
But as Mid-Pacific athletic director Bill Villa took the floor on Saturday during the annual athletic directors' conference, his points about opportunities and consistency were clear. Though ADs passed an approval that would require all leagues to field at least three teams in Division I or II to qualify for a state berth, Villa's points rung home.
But yesterday, the executive board of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association struck down the recommendation from the ADs. Mid-Pacific (boys soccer) and Pac-Five (softball) will get a chance to defend their D-II state titles.
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So much for rubber stamps.
While league executive directors and presidents mostly breezed through a list of 21 proposals for change -- in just 57 minutes -- four of those recommendations from athletic directors faced close scrutiny yesterday.
The heat was on, and three of those four key proposals were rejected by the board during the open session of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association executive board at Mid-Pacific Institute's Hartley Complex.
As expected, a proposal to extend volleyball matches from a best-of-three format to a best-of-five was approved for state-tourney play, and all leagues are going to follow suit for regular-season play.
However, a proposal to require a minimum of three teams in Division I or II for leagues to qualify for state tournaments was voted down. The proposal lost, 54-41, after the Oahu Interscholastic Association joined the Interscholastic League of Honolulu in the board vote. It was a reversal from the vote count at the athletic directors' conference over the weekend, where the proposal had passed by a 53-37 count when OIA ADs voted in favor of the proposal.
"I trust everyone, that nobody's going to declare one way for the sake of league berths," OIA executive director Dwight Toyama said.
The Big Island Interscholastic Federation initiated the proposal going into the ADs conference at Waikoloa. It was a response to Division II state champions from the ILH that had no D-II competition within the league. In other words, Pac-Five had no D-II foes in softball and Mid-Pacific had none in boys soccer, though both played D-I teams regularly. Maryknoll also fielded a D-II team that automatically qualified for the state baseball tourney.
ILH officials were relieved when the HHSAA board's vote was over. Instead of mulling extreme changes, the league can now continue its in-house classification policy, which is primarily enrollment-derived.
"It's in the best interest of the students to have that goal of winning a state championship," ILH president and Mid-Pacific high school principal Richard Schaffer said. "It comes back to the whole classification issue. I'd love for the state to revisit classification, but I'm happy with what the ILH does."
The BIIF, with a majority of schools in the lower half in terms of average enrollment statewide, may be tempted to switch to Division II exclusively. That's what the Kauai Interscholastic Federation did a few years ago. However, BIIF executive director Ken Yamase isn't in favor of any maneuvering.
"It's just talk. I don't think they'll do it," he said of the league's athletic directors and principals.
Declarations for D-I or D-II by sport are left up to each league -- BIIF schools will do so this week -- as are criteria for team classifications. In an extreme example, since the ILH can field a single D-II team and send that team to the state tourney -- as the HHSAA team ratio formula stipulates -- the BIIF could conceivably leave goliath-like Kealakehe alone in Division I football. Kealakehe, by ratio, would qualify for a state berth because all leagues must be represented in HHSAA state-tourney competition.
The football history of the BIIF against other leagues shows that most of the island's teams are far better suited to Division II.
In the BIIF, where gate revenue is key to every school's athletic budget and survival, playing in D-I is almost a must because some D-II programs don't field junior-varsity teams. With that comes lower attendance and revenue -- a major crisis on an island where bus rental costs are prohibitive and gasoline is now $4.45 per gallon.
An even split of D-I and D-II teams will be harder to come by in the BIIF. "I always hope for balance, but we may not be able to attain it," Yamase said.
"If the BIIF goes Division II," Toyama told Yamase, "I trust your league does this for competition."
The HHSAA executive board also defeated a proposal that would have permitted two coaches per team (rather than no coaches) to consult players during the golf state championships. The measure passed at HIADA 54-36, but was downed yesterday 57-33. The OIA reversed direction on this, as well, leading the opposition after voting in favor in Waikoloa.
"If this would've passed, it would've been a nightmare to monitor this. Coaches can pass badges around," BIIF executive director Ken Yamase said.
HHSAA chief Keith Amemiya cited existing, nationwide rules. Because the national federation has no rules for golf, the HHSAA follows Junior Golf guidelines.
"Junior golf has no coaching during a tournament," Amemiya said. "It's very strict."
The proposal was defeated 56-38. The OIA, BIIF and KIF voted in favor.
A BIIF-led proposal to bring the Big Island into the hosting rotation for water polo state tourneys was also shot down after passing HIADA. The proposal was defeated 54-41 without discussion.
"The main concern for us is officials. If the BIIF can demonstrate sufficient (number of) officials, we can discuss this next year," Toyama said.
If the proposal had passed, the BIIF was not due to host the championships until the 2010-11 season. "I thought that we had a viable venue. We have beautiful venues," Yamase said of Kamehameha-Hawaii and the county pool at Kailua-Kona. "We would've had two whole years to train officials."
The volleyball proposal, though, is going to test the time management skills of OIA administrators. By adding a Blue division in girls volleyball last fall, the normal night of play was comprised of several best-of-three matches. The new best-of-five format will require adjustments.
The measure originally was defeated in committee at HIADA, but had enough votes to reach the general assembly on a minority report. After passing the HIADA vote, it breezed through the HHSAA board despite the OIA's objections.
Concerns for the OIA include increased costs for officials, who will likely demand a raise for longer matches. All three neighbor-island leagues already play best-of-5 formats, and the ILH tested it in regular-season play a few years ago.
Another concern is late finishing times on weeknights.
"We can't start earlier (than 5 p.m.) because officials can't make it earlier," said Toyama, who would prefer a 4 p.m. start. "Schools like Waianae would get home real late."
The OIA also tinkered this year with three teams at one site, which saved on transportation costs. Now, however, with all leagues following the HHSAA's lead, best-of-5 matches in the OIA -- involving three teams in one night -- will be a problem.
Should the OIA return to the old scheduling format of just two teams at one site, another issue pops up: more playing dates and more bus rental costs.
"The last thing we want to do," Toyama added, "is raise ticket prices."