Hockey Penalties Toughened for 2014-15

December 4, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Seasons are underway for teams participating in 12 winter sports for which the Michigan High School Athletic Association sponsors postseason tournaments, with stronger penalties for excessive contact in ice hockey highlighting rules changes taking effect with the beginning of competition.

Eight sports including ice hockey began play during the final two weeks of November, with the remaining four sports beginning competition over the next 10 days – Lower Peninsula Boys Swimming and Diving on Dec. 6, Boys Basketball on December 8 and Boys and Girls Skiing on Dec. 13. Upper Peninsula Girls and Boys Bowling teams began competition on Nov. 29, and Lower Peninsula teams may begin Dec. 6.

Changes to ice hockey penalties resulting from opponents being forced into the boards continue a focus on improving safety by establishing different levels of severity based on the flagrance and violence of the offending act. 

Any excessive contact – including checking, cross-checking, elbowing, charging or tripping – that causes an opponent to be thrown violently into the boards will receive a 5-minute major penalty; previously this boarding infraction resulted only in a 2-minute minor penalty unless the contact was flagrant. If the flagrant or violent check causes a player to crash headfirst into the boards, a 5-minute major will be assessed as well as either a 10-minute misconduct or game disqualification depending on the severity of the offending check. Players disqualified from ice hockey games are not allowed to play in the next two games as well. 

A 5-minute major penalty also will be assessed to any player who pushes, charges, cross-checks or body-checks an opponent from behind in open ice. Previously, this excessive contact came with a 2-minute minor penalty and 10-minute misconduct. 

A handful of notable rules changes also go into effect for girls and boys basketball:

  • Intentional fouls were redefined to include excessive contact with any opposing player – not just the shooter – while the ball is live or until an airborne shooter returns to the floor. All excessive contact committed by any player will be ruled intentional.

  • Also, additions to the definition of personal foul were added to eliminate excessive contact on ball handlers outside of the lane area. The following additions constitute a foul when committed against the ball handler/dribbler: placing two hands (fronts or backs of hands) on the player, placing an extended arm bar (forearm away from the body) on the player, placing and keeping a hand on the player, and contacting the player more than once with the same hand or alternating hands.

  • The rule for players releasing to the lane on a free throw attempt was changed to its previous version; a player occupying a marked lane space again may enter the lane on the release of the ball by the free throw shooter. Players behind the free throw line extended and 3-point arc behind the free throw line must wait until the free throw attempt touches the ring or backboard or has ended (touches the floor) before entering the lane. This was the rule prior to the 1994-95 season.

  • Players may wear arm sleeves, knee sleeves, lower leg sleeves and tights, but all sleeves and tights must be black, white, beige or the predominant color of the team’s uniform. All team members wearing sleeves or tights must wear the same color. Knee braces do not count as part of this uniform regulation.

  • A significant change for wrestling affects team tournaments stretching multiple days, including the MHSAA Finals, for which weigh-ins are conducted each day. An athlete must weigh in at the same weight both days in order to continue competing after the first day of the tournament. Previously, an athlete could compete at whatever weight he or she weighed in at on the first day and then the new weight, if different, on the second day. Beginning this season, that wrestler may not compete the subsequent days of the team event if he or she weighs in at a different weight after the first day. 

    The 2014-15 Winter campaign culminates with postseason tournaments beginning with the Upper Peninsula Girls and Boys Swimming & Diving Finals on Feb. 21, and wraps up with the Boys Basketball Finals on March 28. Here is a complete list of winter tournament dates: 

    Boys Basketball
    Districts – March 9, 11 & 13
    Regionals – March 16 & 18
    Quarterfinals – March 24
    Semifinals – March 26-27
    Finals – March 28 

    Girls Basketball
    Districts – March 2, 4 & 6
    Regionals – March 10 & 12
    Quarterfinals – March 17
    Semifinals – March 19-20
    Finals – March 21

    Team Regionals – Feb. 27
    Singles Regionals – Feb. 28
    Team Finals – March 6
    Singles Finals – March 7 

    Girls Competitive Cheer
    Districts – Feb. 20-21
    Regionals – Feb. 28
    Finals: March 6-7 

    Girls Gymnastics
    Regionals – March 7
    Team Finals – March 13
    Individual Finals – March 14 

    Ice Hockey
    Pre-Regionals – March 2-6
    Regional Finals – March 7
    Quarterfinals – March 10-11
    Semifinals – March 12-13
    Finals – March 14 

    Regionals – Feb. 9-13
    Finals – Feb. 23 

    Swimming & Diving
    U.P. Girls & Boys Finals – Feb. 21
    L.P. Boys Diving Regionals – March 5
    L.P. Boys Finals – March 13-14 

    Team Districts – Feb. 11-12
    Individual Districts – Feb. 14
    Team Regionals – Feb. 18
    Individual Regionals – Feb. 21
    Team Quarterfinals – Feb. 27
    Team Semifinals & Finals – Feb. 28
    Individual Finals – March 5-7

    Rep Council Approves Sponsorship of New Sports, Adjusts Winter Schedule at Spring Meeting

    By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

    May 9, 2024

    The Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association took several actions during its Spring Meeting, May 5-6 in Gaylord, including approving the addition of boys volleyball and girls field hockey to the lineup of MHSAA-sponsored tournament sports beginning in 2025-26 and reorganizing the winter championship calendar to end one week earlier.

    The Spring Meeting of the 19-member legislative body of the Association’s more than 1,500 member schools is generally the busiest of its sessions each year. The Council considered 28 committee proposals and dealt with a variety of eligibility rule, postseason tournament and operational issues.

    After a yearlong conversation about emerging sports at MHSAA member schools, the Council approved a Volleyball Committee recommendation to begin sponsorship of boys volleyball with the 2025-26 school year. The Council also voted to begin sponsorship of girls field hockey beginning with 2025-26. Girls field hockey will be played during the Fall season, and boys volleyball during the Spring season, with the 2024-25 school year to serve as a development period as the MHSAA works with the current governing organizations for those sports. These will be the first sports added to the MHSAA’s tournament offerings since girls and boys lacrosse joined the lineup during the 2004-05 school year.

    Changes to the MHSAA Winter Calendar will take effect in 2025-26 and include several adjustments to Finals schedules and practice starts that overall will lead to the winter sports season ending one week earlier – reflecting a fall survey that showed nearly 80 percent of MHSAA member schools felt the winter should be shortened. The reshaped winter sports calendar also completes competition before schools begin their spring breaks – which are being scheduled earlier than in the past – and places championships on dates that avoid potential facility conflicts.

    Beginning with 2025-26, the last weekend in February will include the Team Wrestling, Bowling and Competitive Cheer Finals (with Skiing Finals remaining on the Monday of that week). The first weekend in March will include the Individual Wrestling, Boys Ice Hockey and Girls Gymnastics Finals. The Boys Basketball Finals will move to the second weekend of March with the Lower Peninsula Boys Swimming & Diving Finals, and the Girls Basketball Finals will permanently conclude the winter season during the third weekend of March. The Upper Peninsula Girls & Boys Swimming & Diving Finals will remain in mid-February. With basketball seasons ending earlier, basketball practices will be able to begin five days earlier (on a Wednesday) to keep tryouts/first practice dates from falling during Thanksgiving week.

    More changes to MHSAA Tournament competition will begin in 2024-25. The Council voted to add a team championship for girls wrestling to be awarded to the school with the most success in the girls bracket of the Individual Finals. A girls individual bracket was added for the 2021-22 season, and the team championship will be awarded based on individual finishes similarly to how boys team championships were awarded before the dual format Finals were created with the 1987-88 season. Also for 2024-25, the Council approved Basketball and Soccer Committee recommendations to seed the entire District tournaments in those sports using Michigan Power Ratings (MPR) data, which previously was used to seed only the top two teams in each bracket for girls and boys basketball and girls and boys soccer.

    The Council also approved a classification change in football intended to protect the state’s smallest schools sponsoring the 11-player format. Continuing a conversation from its Winter Meeting in March, the Council approved a Football Committee recommendation to cap the enrollment of Division 8 schools at 250 students, and then divide the rest of the 11-player schools evenly to determine the enrollment lines for the other seven divisions. As more small schools have switched to 8-player, larger schools have shifted into Division 8 for 11-player – and this change guarantees Division 8 schools will play only similarly-small schools during the postseason, taking effect with the 2025-26 school year.

    To continue supporting schools providing teams at multiple levels despite low participation, the Council voted to allow athletes in two more sports to compete on teams at two levels on the same day. The Council approved a Bowling Committee recommendation allowing bowlers to participate in subvarsity and varsity competition on the same day, provided the events are separate – bowlers may still be listed on only one match roster and bowl for one team during each event – and also approved a Girls Lacrosse Committee recommendation to allow athletes to play in no more than five quarters in one day, with overtime an extension of the fourth quarter. At multi-team girls lacrosse tournaments where both school teams are playing, an athlete would be allowed to play in as many halves or quarters as what the school’s highest team level that day is playing.

    The Council bolstered the penalty for inappropriate behavior toward game officials, approving an Officials Review Committee recommendation modifying the penalty for any coach or athlete who is ejected for spitting at, hitting, slapping, kicking, pushing or intentionally and/or aggressively physically contacting a game official at any time during that competition or after being ejected. The offending coach or athlete shall be suspended from competition for the next 14 calendar days and must complete an online sportsmanship course. The offending coach also will not be eligible to coach in the MHSAA Tournament for that sport during that season, nor be allowed to be present at the site or within sight, sound or communication of a tournament event for that team.

    Here is a summary of other notable actions taken by the Representative Council at the Spring Meeting, which will take effect during the 2024-25 school year unless noted:


    • The Council approved a change to the athletic-related transfer (link) rule stating that an athlete is ineligible in all sports participated in during the current or previous school year if that student has transferred to a school where a coach is employed who previously was a school employee or third-party contractor at the athlete’s former school. This change of language bolsters the regulation to include links to a coach at the new school who previously was employed in any way by the previous school.

    • The Council approved a change to the football practice and competition rule to state that a school may not take part in an interscholastic scrimmage with another school until the Wednesday of the second week of practice and only if the team has conducted football practice on at least seven separate previous days. A joint practice with another school is considered a scrimmage and may not take place until those seven days of practice have been completed.  

    Sports Medicine

    • The Council approved a Sports Medicine Advisory Committee recommendation to require high schools to attest by each season’s established deadline that their high school sports coaches have emergency action plans specific to location which are posted, dispersed, rehearsed, discussed and documented within their practice plans.

    • The Council also approved a Committee recommendation requiring MHSAA Tournament host sites to have an AED (automated external defibrillator) within visible distance of the event.


    • The Council approved an Officials Review Committee recommendation requiring a set minimum number of officials required to work an event, designated by sport and level (varsity or subvarsity).

    Sport Matters

    BASEBALL: The Council approved a Baseball Committee recommendation requiring varsity teams to submit their pitch count information electronically by noon the day following every game(s).

    BOWLING: The Council approved a Bowling Committee recommendation allowing for Regionals – Team and Singles – to be competed on consecutive days between Wednesday and Saturday of that week to increase the possibility of more bowling centers being able to host. Previously Regionals could be bowled only on Fridays and Saturdays.

    COMPETITIVE CHEER: The Council approved three Competitive Cheer Committee recommendations related to stunting while also prioritizing safety. In a braced suspended forward roll pyramid, the flyer and at least one bracer will be required to have a hand-to-hand/arm connection, with one or both hands/arms of the bracer connected to one hand/arm/foot of the flyer, and with this maneuver performed only to a cradle position or in a forward suspended role without twists.

    Another change will allow a backward suspended roll when it originates from the cheering surface as long as both hands of the flyer maintain continuous hand-to-hand or hand-to-arm contact with the original bases or back spot.

    A third change allows during an inversion the temporary loss of contact with the flyer while transitioning to a double-based sponge with both feet of the flyer in the hands of the bases, or to a cradle or shoulder-level or below stunt.

    GOLF: The Council approved a Golf Committee recommendation to form a Golf Site Selection Committee to review Regional tournament groupings and determine host schools and courses.

    SOCCER: The Council approved another Soccer Committee proposal to institute a running clock during the first half of matches when the goal differential is eight or more.

    SWIMMING & DIVING: The Council approved a Swimming & Diving Committee recommendation requiring all times entered for MHSAA Finals for both individual and relay swim events to be the times that are the fastest achieved in varsity competition during the current season and electronically verifiable on

    TENNIS: The Council approved a Tennis Committee recommendation requiring the MHSAA to reduce the number of Regional tournaments for a season from eight to six if the number of teams participating that season is fewer than 288.

    TRACK & FIELD: The Council approved a Cross Country/Track & Field Committee recommendation allowing for athletes to qualify for MHSAA Finals by reaching predetermined standards during a window beginning April 1 of that season and extending until that athlete’s Regional meet.

    WRESTLING: The Council approved a Wrestling Committee recommendation to amend the penalty for a team when a wrestler competes at an ineligible weight class during a dual event. If the ineligible wrestler is discovered during the involved match, that wrestler forfeits that match and the opposing team will be awarded six team points, plus the head coach of the team with the ineligible wrestler will be assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty resulting in a one-point team score deduction. If the ineligible wrestler is discovered after the involved match, any points earned by the offending wrestler are removed from the team score, along with the point for unsportsmanlike conduct, and six points are added to the offended team’s total. In both instances, neither wrestler involved in the match in question may compete again in that dual. If the ineligible wrestler is discovered after the dual is completed, the teams have left the mat area and the scorebook has been signed by the official, the results and team score will stand.

    The Council also reviewed reports on membership, with 754 senior high schools and 774 junior high/middle schools in 2023-24 plus 60 elementary schools with 6th-grader participation; cooperative programs, with 392 high school programs for 720 teams during 2023-24; eligibility advancement applications, which totaled one; the use of Educational Transfer Forms, of which there were 128; school violations, attendance at athletic director in-service workshops and Coaches Advancement Program sessions; officials’ registrations (which were up 4.8 percent from 2022-23), rules meetings attendance, and officials reports submitted for the past three sports seasons. The Association’s $14.8 million budget for the 2024-25 school year also was approved.

    The Representative Council is the 19-member legislative body of the MHSAA. All but five 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 more than 1,500 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, which attract more than 1.4 million spectators each year.