Legacy Speaks for Allen's Service

January 31, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Randy Allen was a face seen and a voice heard by thousands during the first two decades of his career in athletics, when he worked as a TV sports anchor and radio play-by-play personality.

But it’s fair to assume his son Dean has watched his dad at work more than anyone over the latter’s most recent 20-plus years serving high school athletic associations, including the last 13 as an assistant director at the MHSAA.

Dean Allen, now an assistant athletic director at Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, remembers many trophy presentations over the years and how his dad would step back and make sure the tournament manager or athletic director was the one handing the hardware to those who deserved the spotlight.

Randy Allen embraced a behind-the-scenes role after joining the high school association side in 1992. And as he retired from the MHSAA on Friday, it was no doubt the athletic directors, officials and coaches who worked with him behind the scenes over the last 13 years who most appreciated his many contributions to making his seasons run smoothly.

“The biggest smile you’d see on him was when the tournament was over and the kids were out there tackling each other, the excitement, the smiles on their faces when they get their medals and raise the trophy,” Dean Allen said. “For him, that’s most worth it. To see it run well, and when it’s over, seeing the kids and the community and parents and coaches, celebrating the successes they’ve had. Seeing the smiles on kids’ faces is really what it’s all about.”

Randy Allen’s name surely isn’t as recognizable to sports fans in Michigan as it was during the 1970s and 80s in Wisconsin.

That was by design.

Allen set that tone almost immediately at his first meeting as a member of the MHSAA staff – during the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association annual summer retreat.

“I remember telling them how glad I was to be here, and how much I looked forward to serving the membership. I just felt that was our main focus here, was to serve schools,” Allen said. “I’ve kept that thought in mind day in and day out.”

Allen knew only a handful of Michiganders when he joined the MHSAA staff. But he knew the job – and was ready for the challenges of fulfilling an aspiration while gaining knowledge of his new home on the fly.

His roots in high school athletics already dug deep.

Allen officiated baseball and softball for 25 years and also some of both at the college level. He also worked as a TV sports anchor at multiple stations near Madison, Wis., for 15 years while radio broadcasting high school football, basketball, baseball and hockey games on three networks and University of Wisconsin hockey games during the era of legendary coach Bob Johnson.

Allen went on to work in various other media roles as a producer, director and station manager, and broadcasted and produced Wisconsin high school tournament games – which led in part to his joining the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association staff as communications director in 1992. 

In 2000, Allen became a seven-state regional director for iHigh.com. But an opportunity at the MHSAA two years later allowed him to pursue a goal going back to his days at the WIAA.

“I had always hoped I would get a chance to manage a sport in a state association,” Allen said. “When I came here, I went to heaven. I got to manage sports, and they were sports I knew like the back of my hand.”

Allen joined the MHSAA staff as assistant director in charge of baseball, softball, hockey and team wrestling. But that was just a start; Allen later traded in baseball and team wrestling for golf and played a leading role in the addition of bowling, which he has directed since its inception.

Allen also coordinated the junior high/middle school and MHSAA awards committees and served as staff liaison to the MIAAA, among other duties.

“Randy has been a perfect fit for his major sport responsibilities here,” MHSAA executive director Jack Roberts said. “He is a very hard worker, and he is very well liked by the coaches, officials and administrators he has served so well.”

It was during a trip to visit potential Hockey Finals sites roughly a decade ago that Roberts first brought up to Allen the possibility of bowling becoming the next MHSAA tournament addition – and the question of who on staff could run it. Roberts asked if Allen had experience in the sport.

Allen had an uncle in the bowling business and had been rolling since he was 4. “Bowling has been in my DNA since I was (a child),” Allen said. “I speak their language.”

He directed the MHSAA’s first Bowling Finals in 2004. Participation in the sport has continued to grow to 6,700 students in 2012-13.

Bowling also played a big part in making Allen something of an ambassador for the MHSAA, in that he reached out to an entire group of sports people who had not been in MHSAA conversations before. 

He played a similar key role in serving others who also often work under the radar, providing training to the athletic department secretaries and middle school athletic directors during MIAAA conferences. And his experience in multiple states allowed him to provide a valuable and varied perspective.

“He always was willing to talk to someone – answer an MHSAA rules or regulation question, provide a quick fix to a school/league issue, give an anecdote to make a bad day better with a smile,” said Bear Lake athletic director Karen Leinaar, who also serves on the MHSAA Representative Council and is assistant to the executive director of the MIAAA. “And he always was a welcoming voice on the phone. No question, no person was ever a bother. He always took time and provided some type of direction.” 

He’ll continue to do so.

Allen will begin Monday as commissioner of the Capital Area Activities Conference, the 27-school league that includes most of the biggest in the Lansing and Jackson areas. 

“My entire life has been school sports. Not college sports, not professional sports. School sports,” Allen said. “It was my passion, what I was comfortable with as an official; I coached a little bit, I played a little bit (and) as a broadcaster.”

PHOTO: Retired MHSAA assistant director Randy Allen (left), with official Dan Dicristofaro, managed his final Hockey Finals in 2013.

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

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com 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 SwimCloud.com.

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.