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D-I state football expansion bid still alive


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POSTED: Saturday, June 13, 2009

Fans of state-championship football might be cheering this morning, but those cheers could still turn to boos.

As of yesterday, a seemingly doomed proposal to expand the Division I state football field from six teams to eight — its original format — breathed new life. The second day of the Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association conference at the Ala Moana Hotel brought hope to fans who have longed to see more of the state's top teams play in the tournament.

The proposal came from the Maui Interscholastic League, which pointed to first-round byes for the tourney's top two seeds in recent years — usually allotted to Oahu's public- and private-school champions — as a key factor. The discussion in Group III, one of four committees that began working on agendas Thursday, led to a vote of 18-12 in favor of the proposal.

The Oahu Interscholastic Association has concerns about allotting an at-large berth, as detailed in the proposal.

“;The concern for the OIA isn't about an eight-team (format). We went to the formula to get away from that,”; Pearl City athletic director Reid Shigemasa said. “;We just want what's fair for the rest of the state.”;

Even with the passage, nothing would be official for any proposal until today's final voting at the general assembly, plus looming approval or rejection from the Hawaii High School Athletic Association executive board.

Not everyone is happy with the proposal; the at-large team could wind up in the same bracket with the champion of its league. At least one voter said he would just say no.

“;We're not gonna do that,”; Kamehameha co-athletic director Kanani Souza promised. “;We play each other two times in the regular season, sometimes three if there's a tie. We might beat the heck out of each other four times before we get to the championship game. What will we have left?”;

The former football coach isn't willing to compromise, but others are.

“;We are hopeful that this proposal passes for the at-large (bid),”; Punahou football coach Kale Ane said, noting that if the football bracket is seeded like brackets in other sports, a league champion and runner-up won't be aligned on the same side.

“;Just to have an opportunity to play in the state tournament is great. The MIL wanted to eliminate the bye. They're solid behind it. We're solid behind it. I think the BIIF is behind it,”; Ane said.

ILH administrators met in caucus well after other leagues were done in the early afternoon.

“;I think we're close,”; said Ane, who guided Punahou to its first state title last fall.

A proposal regarding state-tourney field sizes for team sports (not including football) was revived yesterday. With a few amendments, the proposal from the Big Island Interscholastic Federation was passed by a whopping 33-3 vote. That switch in sentiment surprised many; the original wording was outpointed in a Thursday straw vote 28-8.

The BIIF's proposal could allow eight or 12 teams to play in the HHSAA state tourney — depending on the number of participating teams year to year. An amendment yesterday eliminated the possibility of 16-team fields.

“;I'm kind of surprised. I thought it was a done deal,”; BIIF interim executive director Lyle Crozier said.

That measure was joined by an OIA proposal to limit tourneys to eight teams.

In addition, the BIIF's proposal would allow for a Division III state tourney if more than 85 teams participate in a sport. Kamehameha-Hawaii AD Bob Wagner, who has envisioned a D-III state format in recent years, isn't holding his breath.

“;They might assume there won't be more than 85 teams,”; the former UH football coach said.

Others, like Academy of the Pacific AD Ryan Hogue, see a glass half-full.

“;We're a small-school league,”; he said of the ILH, the state's largest league in terms of members. “;This gives us room to be flexible.”;

Concern about revenue and expenses are justified, but the numbers favor expansion, Wagner said.

“;Our first-round game in the BIIF for state tournaments, the revenue stream is just as good or better as Oahu when you bring an Oahu team to the neighbor islands,”; he said.