By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The MHSAA Network was honored Wednesday night with three awards from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters at its annual Broadcast Excellence Awards presentation for 2019 at the conclusion of the Great Lakes Media Show at the Lansing Center.
This Week In High School Sports, the network’s five-minute weekly flagship program – powered by Michigan Student Aid – which is heard on more than 100 over-the-air and internet audio outlets across the state during the Fall and Winter sports seasons, won the Best of category for Sports Program for Statewide Radio Networks. The program also received a Merit Award in the category.
The MHSAA Network origination of the 2019 Division 1 Boys Basketball Final – presented by Sparrow Health – also took a Merit Award in the Sports Play-by-Play category. The 64-62 win for Ypsilanti Lincoln, decided on a putback at the buzzer by Jalen Fisher, had Topher Goggin and Jeff Sommerville of MHSAA Network affiliate WQBX in Alma on the call, John Kreger as the host and Mike Stump as the sideline reporter.
“We’ve always felt that we were providing quality coverage of high school sports and had never entered the MAB awards program prior to this past year,” said John Johnson, MHSAA Director of Sports Broadcast Properties, who also hosts This Week in High School Sports. “It’s humbling to receive such an honor from those in the broadcasting community that we serve.”
The MHSAA Network produces audio coverage of the Association’s championships in Boys Soccer, Girls Volleyball and Football in the Fall; Ice Hockey and Basketball in the Winter; and Lacrosse, Girls Soccer, Baseball and Softball in the Spring – 90 games in all. All games can be heard on the MHSAANetwork.com website, and the Basketball Finals in March are broadcast by 20 to 40 over-the-air radio stations. In addition to This Week In High School Sports, the Network also produces the weekly 60-second vignette – Be The Referee – which takes a look into the fine art of officiating. Those programs are also available at MHSAANetwork.com and the MHSAA Website.
The Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association began examining several topics during its Fall Meeting, Dec. 1 in East Lansing – including start and end dates of the winter calendar, possible new transfer rule exceptions and emerging sports – that will shape its work during the winter and spring meetings of this 2023-24 school year.
Generally, the Council takes only a few actions during its Fall Meeting, with topics often introduced for additional consideration and action during its meetings in March and May. The Council did take three actions this time as part of larger conversations expected to continue over the next six months.
The Council joined staff discussion on the start and end dates of winter seasons and the possibility of moving up both, which was among topics surveyed as part of the Update Meeting poll completed by administrators during the MHSAA’s annual presentations across the state this fall. Staff will prepare a recommendation for Council to review at a future meeting regarding the 2025-26 school year and beyond.
MHSAA staff also provided a variety of transfer rule issues encountered over the last year, and Council discussed the possibility of adding transfer rule exceptions related to military transfer families, fulltime school employee transfers and students returning from a sports academy or prep school and seeking immediate eligibility. The Council did adopt a change for multi-high school districts (with at least three high schools) that include both boundary and non-boundary schools that more clearly defined where students at those schools have immediate eligibility.
The Council also discussed possible new and emerging sports, including proposals for MHSAA sponsorship received by the water polo and field hockey governing bodies and an anticipated proposal to add boys volleyball to the MHSAA Tournament lineup.
Several more conversations regarded MHSAA postseasons:
- The Council reviewed the work of the Football Task Force and considered a staff recommendation to have the Football Committee in January discuss possibly capping enrollment of Division 8 11-player schools at 250 students to incentivize schools within that group to play 11-player instead of switching to 8-player.
- MHSAA staff have identified four areas requiring financial increases – MHSAA Tournament officials fees, host schools compensations, manager honorariums and team reimbursements for Finals participants – and the Council discussed the importance of including these when the MHSAA Audit & Finance Committee meets in February to begin the 2024-25 budgetary process.
- The Council also discussed recommendations from the MHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee addressing possible requirements of emergency action plans and AEDs at MHSAA Tournament sites.
The Fall Meeting saw the appointment of Wyoming Godfrey-Lee Schools superintendent Arnetta Thompson and Freeland Middle School principal Jennifer Thunberg to two-year terms to the 19-person Council, the first terms for both. The Council also reelected Scott Grimes, superintendent for Grand Haven Area Public Schools, as its president; Brighton High School athletic director John Thompson as its vice president, and Vic Michaels, director of physical education and athletics for the Archdiocese of Detroit, as secretary-treasurer.
The Representative Council is the 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 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.