Representative Council Votes To
Expand Football Playoffs With Modifications To Plan; Implementation
To Take Place In 1999
[Back to News]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE --December 3, 1998
Contact: John Johnson or Mike Clifford-- 517.332.5046
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Dec. 3 -- The Representative
Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association voted
Wednesday to expand its post-season football playoffs to a five-week,
256-team tournament effective in 1999, but made modifications
to the publicized proposal to ease school's concerns for scheduling
and isolated concerns for earlier competition in the Fall. The
announcement was made here today at the Michigan Association
of Secondary School Principals Conference at the Grand Traverse
The action of the Council to expand the tournament to a fifth
week comes after its vote in May, consistent with a 73 percent
favorable vote by schools, to go on record as favoring expansion
and directing the MHSAA staff to develop and present a plan to
the membership for discussion in time for the Fall meeting.
The plan discussed with schools during the Fall would have qualified
virtually all schools with six or more victories for the playoffs,
which would begin a week earlier to accommodate the addition
of an another level of play. Schools wishing to play a nine-game
schedule would have to begin their regular season a week earlier.
The Council modified the proposal to also qualify teams playing
eight regular-season games if they win five games.
Under the adopted proposal, those schools whose win total qualify
them for the playoffs will be ranked by enrollment following
the completion of the regular season, and then divided into eight
divisions of 32 schools each. If fewer than 256 schools qualify
by win total, the excluded teams with the highest computer playoff
averages would be added to fill out the field, with an equal
number of schools coming from Classes A, B, C and D. No teams
with losing records would qualify. In the unlikely event that
more than 256 schools qualify by win total, the teams with the
lowest playoff averages would be deleted from the field in an
equal number from each class. In 1997, 230 schools would have
qualified by win total.
Under the proposal, approximately 40 percent of the football
playing schools in each class (A, B, C and D) would qualify for
Once the 256-team field is set, the 32 teams
in each division will be drawn into Districts and Regions. The
four-team Districts would have the team with the top playoff
average hosting the fourth-ranked team;
Click here for a Q & A
on the Football Playoff Expansion
and the second hosting the third. The second week of the tournament
would be the District Final, played at the site of the highest
ranked team. The Regional championship would be played the following
weekend, with the method host either being predetermined by draw
or by playoff average. Semifinal games would continue as in the
past, with predetermined Regional champions playing each other
at prearranged sites, and the Finals continuing to take place
at the Pontiac Silverdome on Thanksgiving weekend.
The modification to make five wins the qualifying number for
schools playing eight-game schedules was made to better accommodate
schools which either had difficulty in securing a nine-game schedule
or did not wish to begin their regular-season a week earlier.
In a seven-year calendar, football playing schools would begin
practice only two days earlier on five occasions. Schools with
a nine-game schedule would have only one preseason scrimmage.
The Council also voted to recommend that schools which intend
to keep a nine-game schedule slide entire schedules forward by
one week to accommodate the change, and to do the same with the
officials assigned to those contests.
This is the fourth expansion of the playoffs since they began
in 1975 with four teams in each class. The tournament expanded
to 32 teams in 1977, 64 teams in 1985, and then doubled the number
of teams again by splitting each class in 1990, upping the number
of schools to 128.
Following the presentation of the plan to member schools during
the Fall, football-playing institutions were surveyed. Of 454
valid surveys returned, 91 percent favored the plan, and 85 percent
favored expansion in 1999.
In other action, the Representative Council voted to eliminate
the separate Upper Peninsula Girls Volleyball Tournament and
to include Upper Peninsula schools with Lower Peninsula schools
in a unified girls volleyball tournament beginning with the 1999-2000
school year. The Council also approved a five-year extension
of its contract to play the Football Finals at the Pontiac Silverdome
through the year 2004, and voted to return the Lower Peninsula
Cross Country Finals to Michigan Speedway in Brooklyn for 1999
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, private and parochial high schools
and junior high/middle schools. No government funds or tax dollars
support the MHSAA, which does not accept membership dues or tournament
entry fees from schools. Member schools may participate in MHSAA
tournaments conducted in 12 sports for girls and 12 sports for
boys which attract approximately 1.3 million spectators each