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State tourney sizes are hot topic


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POSTED: Friday, June 12, 2009

A proposal to reduce the state tournament field in all team sports from 12 teams to eight gained momentum yesterday at the annual Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association conference at the Ala Moana Hotel.

Committees of ADs divided up the agenda among four groups. Several prominent issues are in Group IV, dealing with tournament field sizes, classification, formula and representation. Each group has until today to sort out passage or rejection of various proposals, which usually come from athletic directors and/or leagues. Tomorrow, proposals are up for vote on the floor of the general assembly, and approved proposals go on to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association executive board.

Proposals that have been heavily popular at HIADA had died a quick death before the HHSAA board before. Conversely, there have been rejected proposals that came back to life at the HHSAA level.

Still, the move to reduce fields for team sports from 12 to eight teams starting this fall has legs. A similar proposal, which also came from the Oahu Interscholastic Association, was rejected by the HHSAA board before the recently completed spring season. In that vote, the OIA was outnumbered by the rest of the state. Despite a struggling economy, neighbor-island leagues did not request small tournament fields and less participation.

A smaller field could mean reduced revenue for the HHSAA, which counts on attendance in part to offset growing costs.

Last night, Group IV did a straw vote and 21 of 35 voters like the proposal. The OIA, the second-largest league in the state, has historically voted as a block. The committee sessions resume this morning and could continue again as late as this afternoon if items remain unresolved.

If approved by HIADA and the HHSAA, an eight-team field would likely sift out powerhouse teams. Punahou, for example, would not have qualified for the baseball tourney, and would not have won its sixth straight title.

“;I don't like it, but I don't blame anybody,”; 'Iolani co-AD Carl Schroers said. “;It's a lot of money to send teams over (to Oahu from the neighbor islands).”;

Two other proposals regarding tournament size came from the Big Island Interscholastic Federation and Maui Interscholastic League. The BIIF's proposal, to use a sliding scale of sorts, would increase or decrease the field depending on the number of teams playing in a particular sport. The field would range from eight to 16 teams. A straw vote showed members against that measure 26-9.

The MIL's proposal is more cut-and-dried, limiting a state field to four teams if there were 24 or fewer teams in the sport. The tourney would have eight teams if there were 25 to 48 teams total, and if there were more than 48 teams, the field would allow for 16 teams. There was no motion on that proposal as of last night, which means they will likely discuss it today.

Another key issue, classification, drew a proposal from the BIIF to require enrollment as the primary criteria for defining Division I and II programs statewide—as 48 other states do. The proposal faces stiff resistance from the OIA, the only league that uses Division II as a consolation division of sorts by relying on a “;power rating”; rather than enrollment as criteria.

Without a uniform criteria, the OIA is free to continue sending teams to the state D-II tournaments even if a team's school has 3,000 students. Gary Oertel of Christian Liberty isn't optimistic about the proposal's chances.

“;Not really. I just feel like some people are still against it,”; he said. “;But there wasn't a lot of discussion about it (yet).”;

A proposal, from the MIL, in Group III to expand the state football tournament fields from six teams to eight is teetering on the brink of rejection. Expanding to eight teams—the original size before Division II was created—would eliminate first-round byes that normally go to the ILH and OIA D-I champs. Though travel costs would increase—football is a sport that the HHSAA provides some financial assistance with for traveling teams—the MIL has drawn large crowds as a host site for tourney games.

Another proposal, from the ILH, suggests a cut in the field from six to four teams—league champions only.