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Promotion Of Officials Highlights Spring Representative Council Meeting

EAST LANSING, Mich. - May 19 - Measures designed to attract individuals to become officials, including expanding tournament opportunities for and improving the quality and reputation of officials, highlighted the actions taken by the Representative Council of the MHSAA at its Spring meeting, May 7-9, in Gaylord.

The Spring meeting of the 19-member legislative body of the Association's 1,293 member schools is usually the busiest of its three sessions each year. The Council considered 35 committee proposals and discussed a number of eligibility and operational issues.

As a result of the Council's actions, opportunities for high school students to become involved in officiating will expand; increasing the pool of available officials for MHSAA tournaments will take place; efforts to train officials through local officials associations will be stepped up; educating game participants and the general public about officials will occur; more recognition for officials work will be provided; and an ad hoc committee to address officials issues has been made an MHSAA standing committee.

"The role of the official in school sports is vital," said MHSAA Executive Director John E. "Jack" Roberts. "Michigan has been recognized as a state which has been progressive in what it does for and with officials, but we must increase those efforts. What the Council has authorized to recruit, train and retain officials is the groundwork for ensuring a larger pool of quality officials for years to come, and provides a mechanism for coaches, players and fans to better understand and respect the work of officials. The last item is just as important as the first. If we don't demand and get respect for our officials, all other efforts to recruit, train and retain officials will be for naught."

Responding to the recommendations of the MHSAA Executive Committee, Athletic Equity Committee and Volleyball Committee that not enough high school students are being recruited into the officiating field through the Legacy Program, and that those who enter at that age tend to leave officiating shortly after graduating, the Legacy program was changed to allow 11th graders, 16 years of age and older, to officate sub-varsity and junior high/middle school games with an approved official. Previously, the Legacy program was available only to 12th graders. A second change will allow 12th graders, 17 years of age and older, to officiate sub-varsity and junior high/middle school contests without a mentoring official. Both changes take place during the 2001-02 school year.

In the area of expanding the pool of available tournament officials, the Representative Council responded to recommendations of the Officials Review Committee on two counts. First, in baseball, softball and volleyball, selected officials associations will be provided the tools to administer MHSAA rules meeting information on a make-up basis in efforts to have more officials meet that essential requirement for working tournament contests. There will be a maximum of two make-up meetings in each of the eight officiating zones around the state. Officials who participate and score at least 85 percent on the closed-book exam administered by the local trainer would then qualify for and MHSAA post-season tournament assignment in lieu of attendance at a regularly-scheduled MHSAA-conducted rules meeting. Beginning in 2001-02, an official may register under "inactive" status, so when that official returns to active status, he or she could resume activity with their previous ratings intact and be eligible for working MHSAA District Tournament contests.

To improve the quality and reputation of officials, the Council approved several recommendations of the MHSAA Basketball, Gymnastics and Officials Review Committees. In gymnastics, judges for the Lower Peninsula Finals will be required to attend one of three clinics offered by the Michigan Interscholastic Gymnastics Coaches and Judges Association in addition to the MHSAA rules meeting. In basketball, football and wrestling, effective in 2005-06 and expanding by one sport per year after that, officials must belong to an approved local officials association as a condition of being extended invitations to work MHSAA post-season tournaments. An appeal/waiver procedure will be developed for unaffiliated officials. The MHSAA will release a video in time for the 2000-01 school year to be shown at pre-season parent and team meetings to educate team members and spectators to promote respect toward officials and proper sportsmanship, and at the same time, serving the purpose of recruiting, retaining and encouraging officials. Beginning in 2000-01, officials will receive a usable gift of appreciation when registering for the 6th and 11th years of service; and a 40-year award will join the 20 and 30-year awards already provided. Finally, the MHSAA Officials Review Committee, which has been an ad hoc committee since 1995, has been given standing committee status. This committee reviews the concerns of officials and MHSAA services to them, and consists of 16 persons to represent every portion of the state and every sport the MHSAA provides post-season tournament competition in.

Here is a summary of other actions taken at the Spring Representative Council Meeting:

Revised A Tournament Condition Interpretation, Lowering The Required Number Of Schools Sponsoring A Sport For The MHSAA To Provide Tournament Competition. Seventy schools have needed to sponsor a sport on the interscholastic basis for three years in order for the MHSAA Representative Council to consider providing services to those schools, including a post-season tournament. The Council lowered the number of schools to 64, and reduced the number of years to two.
Quoting Jack Roberts - "There is growth taking place in a number of sports across the state, and it will be interesting to see which sport or sports are next to qualify for an MHSAA post-season tournament. While it can't be all things to all people, the MHSAA has always stood ready to serve those sports which a sufficient number of schools decide to sponsor so that post-season play is workable and meaningful."

Added An Interpretation To The MHSAA Handbook To Clarify When And How Teams May Assemble For The First Day Of Practice At Non-School Venues. Beginning in 2000-01, schools may permit teams in any sport to assemble at a site other than the regular practice location one day prior to the earliest allowable practice. School vehicles may be used to transport teams to the site.
Quoting MHSAA Associate Director Jerry Cvengros - "More and more schools, especially for fall sports, are interested in conducting some of the first practices off campus, even outside of their home communities. The question of having the team assemble in a different location the day before the first practice left many schools asking if the practice was allowed and if school transportation could be used. This new interpretation will make it clear that this may happen."

The Council Voted To Appoint A Committee To Study Issues With Non-School Programs. This spring, meetings will conclude between the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan and Amateur Athletic Union coaches, looking at the impact of participation of school students on non-school teams. Following those meetings, the MHSAA will appoint a committee of broader representation as to personnel and sport to analyze the outcome of those meetings and to look at issues involving other sports. A progress report will be provided to the Representative Council at its Fall meeting in November.
Quoting MHSAA Assistant Director Nate Hampton -- "The Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan has worked very hard with the AAU community to address concerns that schools have about non-school programs in its sport. With the growth of non-school programs in other sports, especially soccer and volleyball, we need to use BCAM's work as a guide to help our MHSAA committee address what is happening and to come up with solutions to those problems that do exist and to improve the communication between school sports and non-school programs."

Adjusted the practice and competition starting dates in golf. In fall golf, the earliest date for practice is four days earlier, the Thursday before the week of August 15, which remains the earliest day for competition. This fall, practice may being on August 10, and competition may begin on August 14. In spring golf, the earliest date for practice is unchanged, but the earliest date for competition is the following Thursday. Next spring, practice may begin on March 12, and competition may begin on March 15. Previously, the first practice and competition dates were the same.

Adjusted the volleyball season calendar so that practice may begin four days earlier. Beginning in 2000-01, girls volleyball practice will commence the Thursday before Thanksgiving week, which is November 16 this year.
Quoting MHSAA Assistant Director Gina Mazzolini - "The Volleyball Committee felt that some additional time was necessary to conduct legitimate try outs, especially at the sub-varsity level, and that attempting to do that during a holiday week didn't provide enough time. This new date will not be in conflict with many girls basketball teams since the District phase of the tournament will be nearly complete."

Moved The Lower Peninsula Cross Country Tournament Series One Week Earlier. The Council approved the recommendation of the Track and Field/Cross Country Committee. Beginning in the 2001-02 school year, the regional and final rounds of the Lower Peninsula Cross Country Tournament will take place one week earlier. The dates for 2001 will be October 20 for Regionals, October 27 for Finals. The Upper Peninsula Finals is not affected by this action.
Quoting Nate Hampton -- "The probability of better weather will assist in the preparation and administration of the Lower Peninsula Finals at Michigan Speedway."

The Boys Basketball Tournament Series Will Be Conducted One Week Earlier In 2005 And 2008. Twice in the coming decade, Easter weekend falls as early as it possibly can on the calendar, placing the final round of the Boys Basketball Tournament during that week. The Council adjusted only the Boys Basketball Tournament in those years.

In Lower Peninsula Cross Country, Regional Competition Will Be Conducted In Nine Regions In Each Division. The top three teams will advance from each Regional to the Final run, and all Regional medalists not on advancing teams will also advance to the finals. This change will work with the switch to four early divisions of competition to advance approximately 260 runners in each division in each gender, to the final meet. The net effect will be an increase in the number of participants at the finals, but a decrease in the number of competitors in each race.
Quoting Nate Hampton - "One of the premises of going to equal divisions in many sports is to assist in the administration of the tournament . In cross country, we had nearly 300 kids at the starting line in some races in Classes A and B and not even half that in Class D. By going to divisions, and equalizing the number of regions, more kids than ever will advance to the finals, but not to such a big race that it detracts from their finals experience."

In Gymnastics, Approved A Procedure To Allow An Additional Team To Qualify For The MHSAA Lower Peninsula Finals. The Council approved the recommendation of the Gymnastics Committee to allow a 13th team to qualify to the Final meet if that team earned a score of 140.0 or above at the Regional tournament, and was the highest scoring team but which did not place in the top three teams at its Regional meet.
Quoting MHSAA Assistant Director Suzanne Martin - "This will provide an opportunity for one high-scoring fourth-place team competing in a strong Regional meet to advance to the Finals. There are, on occasion, Regionals that may have a large number of strong teams, and this will allow a team which is capable of posting a score worthy of advancing to the Finals, the chance to move on in the tournament."

In Tennis, A Fourth Doubles Flight Was Added To The Tournament Series In Divisions 1, 2 And 3. Effective in 2000-01, there will be four singles and four doubles flights in the Division 1, 2 and 3 tournaments in tennis. Division 4 will still be conducted with four singles and three doubles. Upper Peninsula tennis schools will be surveyed on this topic, and a decision to implement a fourth doubles will then be made by the Upper Peninsula Athletic Committee.
Quoting Gina Mazzolini - "There have been a number of schools conducting a fourth doubles during the regular season for several years, and the numbers have grown to the point where sponsoring schools and tournament managers felt that it was time to have this additional flight added to the MHSAA tournament. There was not sufficient support, however, for adding a fourth doubles in Division 4, as some schools struggle to field a team of four singles and three doubles."

Adjusted The Substitution Pattern In Volleyball. In advance of a National Federation of State High School Associations rule change in the 2001-02 school year, MHSAA staff recommended to the Representative Council a substitution pattern change which would limit the number of substitutions to 15 per game, but not limit the number of times an individual could be substituted. Previously, an individual player had three entries into the lineup per game. This change will occur at all levels of play during the regular season and in the MHSAA post-season tournament series.
Quoting Gina Mazzolini - "In tough matches, it has been difficult for coaches to substitute their players so that they're ending up with their best team on the floor at crunch time. In most situations, a team does not use 15 substitutions in a game, but they may use up the three entries for an individual player. Coaches should feel more free to substitute during games with the adoption of this recommendation."

Changed The Growth Allowance Date In Wrestling. The Growth Allowance date in wrestling, where a wrestler is allowed two additional pounds to make weight, has been January 15 for a number of years. The Council action changes the date to the second Sunday in January.
Quoting MHSAA Assistant Director Bill Bupp - "There was confusion every year about the administration of the Growth Allowance, especially with home weigh-ins when January 15 fell near a tournament weekend. Making the date the second Sunday of January will leave no question in anyone's mind, especially since it is not generally a day that wrestling schools compete."

In Wrestling, Eliminated The Parental Permission Feature Of The Michigan Weight Monitoring Program. Since the implementation of the Michigan Weight Monitoring Program, there were three opportunities available to appeal the lowest weight at which a wrestler could compete. If a school disagreed with the initial body fat assessment, a second weigh-in could take place. If the school continued to challenge the lowest weight, a wrestler could submit to a hydrostatic weigh-in, where the weight and body fat measurements were taken under water. The final option was for the parent to request that their wrestler be allowed to compete at a weight which was three percent below that determined in previous weigh-ins. The last request, the "Parental Permission" option, was eliminated by the Council.
Quoting Bill Bupp - "The medical personnel who have been working with the Michigan Weight Monitoring Program determined that allowing parents that final appeal was a risk issue and that anything beyond the hydrostatic weigh-in that presented the opportunity for a wrestler to compete at a lower weight put that young person's health in jeopardy. In addition, we found that whole teams, on occasion, were exercising the Parental Permission feature, which led us to believe that some schools were looking for any advantage they could get, but this truly was an unhealthy advantage, in terms of the spirit of competition, and the health of student-athletes."

Adopted The Recommendation Of The Upper Peninsula Athletic Committee To Reclassify Its Tournaments Into Divisions. At its April 7 meeting in Escanaba, the Upper Peninsula Athletic Committee recommended to the Representative Council that those tournaments terminating in an Upper Peninsula Final have its schools classified into divisions. The plan, however, differed from divisional reclassification in some MHSAA Lower Peninsula and unified tournaments, in the respect that in cross country, track and field, and golf, the small school division would still be Class D schools. In the two other sports having more than an one class tournament, the schools would be broken into two nearly equal divisions. Here is a look at how the divisional structure will look for Upper Peninsula championships:

Girls Gymnastics - 1 Division - 5 Schools

Boys & Girls Swimming & Diving - 1 Division - 12 Schools

Individual Wrestling - 1 Division - 16 Schools

Boys & Girls Cross Country
Division 1 - 10 Schools (Enrollments 1523-466)
Division 2 - 11 Schools (465-260)
Division 3 - 12 Schools (259-77)

Boys & Girls Track & Field
Division 1 - 11 Schools (1532-461)
Division 2 - 12 Schools (460-260)
Division 3 - 28 Schools (259-24)

Boys & Girls Golf
Division 1 - 9 Schools (1532-466)
Division 2 - 10 Schools (465-332)
Division 3 - 21 Schools (331-24)

Boys & Girls Tennis
Division 1 - 7 Schools (1532-466)
Division 2 - 7 Schools (465-158)

Quoting Jerry Cvengros - "This was a great piece of work by the Upper Peninsula Athletic Committee to provide some equity in the tournament structure, and still respect the needs of the large number of Class D teams in the Peninsula."

In other actions, the Council acted to provide a survey instrument to MHSAA member schools which could be used to assist in determining the athletic interests of students; made a recommendation to golf schools that players who cannot submit an average nine-hole score of 65 or below not be entered in the tournament series in that sport; and approved a Gymnastics Committee recommendation to allow teams that qualify for Lower Peninsula Regional competition to have five entries in each event instead of four.

The Council also reviewed reports on cooperative programs, of which all-time highs of 141 at the high school level, and 52 at the junior high/middle school level have now been reached; eligibility advancement applications, which numbered a record low 23 for 1999-00; school violations; attendance at athletic director and coaches in-service workshops; on 10,982 officials being registered as of April 15; rules meeting attendance; officials reports submitted for the past three sports seasons; and training and awards activities for officials during the Spring. The Association's $7.3 million budget for the 2000-01 school year was also approved.

The Representative Council is the 19-member legislative body of the MHSAA. All but five members are elected by member schools. Four members are appointed by the Council to facilitate representation of females and minorities; and the 19th position is occupied by the Superintendent of Public Instruction or designee.
The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by over 1,300 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments conducted in 12 sports for girls and 12 sports for boys which attract approximately 1.3 million spectators each year.