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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE --December 14, 1999
Contact: John Johnson or Andy Frushour-- 517.332.5046

Soccer, Cross Country, Track & Field Reclassification Occur
At Fall Representative Council Meeting

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Dec. 14 - Reclassification matters affecting soccer, cross country and track and field tournaments were among the major actions taken by the Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association at its Fall meeting, Dec. 1, in Grand Rapids.

The 19-member legislative body of the Association's 1,300-plus member schools meets three times annually to discuss and act upon sport committee proposals, eligibility rules and procedural issues.

In soccer, the Council voted to implement a 20 percent modification for the classification of teams in those tournaments effective in 2000-01, in an effort to reduce the enrollment range in the smallest classification. Using the equal divisions concept this year, schools of 489 students and under fall into Division 4 in boys soccer; and in girls soccer, it is 643 students and below. If the 20 percent modification had been in place, Division 4 for boys would have been 432 students and below; for girls 578 and below. When this change takes affect in the 2000-01 school year, there will be approximately 101 schools in the Division 1-3 tournaments for boys, and 76 in the Division 4 tournament. For the girls soccer tournament, there will be approximately 84 schools in Divisions 1-3, and 63 in Division 4.

Since the expansion of the concept of equal divisions in some MHSAA tournaments, there has been a concern raised by some Class D schools regarding the enrollment range between the largest and smallest school in the smallest division for some sports. Last May, the Council went on record in favor of reducing the enrollment range for the smallest schools' division in at least some sports, and directed the MHSAA staff to prepare classification modifications for at least some sports broken into equal divisions.

"We found that there is a need to monitor the enrollment range as it relates to Class D schools. Factors such as the type of sport - non-contact, contact, collision - needed to be factored into the equation, as well as the players required for each sport," said John E. "Jack" Roberts, MHSAA Executive Director. "During our research into this matter, we found that the number of students participating in soccer from Class C to Class D schools differed significantly, especially when you consider the number of athletes necessary to field a team, and the collision nature of the sport. We looked at several methods of reducing the enrollment range and found that the 20 percent modification was the best fit."

The Council also added Lower Peninsula track and field and cross country to the growing list of MHSAA tournaments which utilize equal divisions. Effective with the 2000 tournaments, equal divisions will be utilized, with approximately 152 schools in each division for track and field; approximately 139 schools in each division for cross country.

"The proposal to reclassify track and field, as well as cross country, had strong support of the committees for those sports, as well as that of the classification committee and surveys of the membership," Roberts said. The Council had voted last May that if the equal divisions concept was adopted for track and field, the change would occur without delay. Lower Peninsula schools are being notified this week regarding the divisions for the MHSAA Track & Field Tournament this Spring.

In addition, the Representative Council determined that the National Federation authenticating Mark would not be required on any game ball for any sport through the 2000-01 school year; heard the results of the MHSAA task force on non-traditional schools and students that reported that no additional opportunities for athletic participation need to be promoted by the MHSAA; and adopted a policy for leagues and conferences which do not have written policies regarding late contest starting times.

The Council also appointed Melvin Atkins, director of athletics for the Grand Rapids Public Schools; and Judy Raica, principal at North Branch High School, to two-year terms on the board. Honored for their service to the Representative Council were retiring members Robert Grimes of Battle Creek and Geraldine David of Gaylord. Selected as officers for the coming year were Paul Ellinger, superintendent of Cheboygan Public Schools, as president; Dennis Kniola, administrative assistant for Stevensville Lakeshore Public Schools, as vice-president; and Tom Rashid, director of physical education and athletics for the Archdiocese of Detroit, as secretary-treasurer.

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.