Rep Council Wrap-Up: Fall 2018

December 6, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The adoption of alterations to the Michigan High School Athletic Association fall calendar and approval of Calvin College as the continued host site for the Girls Basketball Finals were among actions taken by the MHSAA’s Representative Council during its Fall Meeting on Nov. 30 in East Lansing.

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 winter and spring. However, with multiple topics requiring immediate attention this fall, the Council approved calendar and basketball recommendations in advance of circumstances that will affect both during the 2019-20 school year and beyond.

The calendar change will keep the length of fall seasons consistent in boys soccer, cross country, tennis and golf in years when Thanksgiving is “late” during the fourth full week of November. The Council approved a recommendation allowing those four sports in “short years” – for example, 2019 – to begin practice the 16th Monday before Thanksgiving (Monday, Aug. 12, 2019) and begin competition after three days of practice over four calendar days (Friday, Aug. 16, 2019). Because the start of practice in those sports annually is tied to Thanksgiving, but the Finals are not, those four fall sports faced shorter seasons by one week in 2019, 2024, 2025, etc.

The Council also approved continuing to conduct the Girls Basketball Semifinals and Finals for 2019-20 and 2020-21 at Van Noord Arena at Calvin College. The Girls Finals moved to Van Noord Arena in 2017-18 because of the unavailability of Michigan State University’s Breslin Center due to a conflict with the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament and an opportunity for Michigan State’s women’s team to host first and second-round games had it qualified and earned a top-16 overall seed. The same conflict is possible during Girls Basketball Finals traditional weekend in 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023. Additionally, the Council discussed solutions for the 2023-24 and 2024-25 seasons, when Breslin may not be available during the traditional weekend of the MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals. The boys season for 2018-19 switched calendars with the girls season to avoid the same NCAA Tournament conflict; Breslin is the only building statewide that has made itself available for the Boys Basketball Finals and is large enough to accommodate the event. Only one other location offered to host the Girls Basketball Finals for 2019-20 and 2020-21.

Also affecting competition for 2019-20, the Council approved the continuation of an experiment begun in 2016-17 that allows cooperative programs in a series of sports – regardless of the student enrollment maximum – for two or more schools of the same public school district (and with the same governing board). Districts may form these co-ops in baseball, bowling, girls competitive cheer, cross country, golf, soccer, girls softball, tennis and wrestling. The experiment was designed to provide opportunities to participate in urban school districts where schools previously did not have enough athletes for team sponsorship on their own. Districts must show a demonstrated history of inadequate numbers of participants to be approved. These programs require the same two-year renewal process as other cooperative programs.

The Council also approved a change effective in spring 2020 that will allow spring sports teams, that have received MHSAA approval to travel out of state, to practice jointly and/or scrimmage (up to the season’s limit of four allowed scrimmages) with and against other approved MHSAA member schools. The Council reviewed survey data from the fall Update meetings and an online survey of membership that showed significant support for the allowance.

A number of other discussions focused on matters that could come before the Council for action at its Winter Meeting in March or Spring Meeting in May. In preparation for the Football Committee meeting in January, the Council discussed survey results concerning regular-season scheduling and the MHSAA Tournament for both 11 and 8-player football. The Council also reviewed possible benefits of adjusting MHSAA officials registration to include National Association of Sports Officials (NASO) membership and also other options for changing MHSAA registration prices to encourage more multi-sport officials. These officiating concepts will be presented to the MHSAA Audit and Finance Committee in February in advance of possible Council action in March or May.

The Council discussed creating an MHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee to provide input and guidance on such topics, and also heard feedback received during Update meetings on the MHSAA’s possible role in mental health initiatives. The Council heard an update on the communication and notice that has taken place regarding the new Sport-Specific Transfer Rule that goes into effect for 2019-20 based on the sports a student participated in during 2018-19. The Council also continued its 2018 March and May discussions concerning the boarding school student exception to the transfer rule, with staff reporting on a recent meeting with those boarding schools administrators.

Additionally, the Council heard an update on the “Presenting Sponsor” program whereby the MHSAA has provided support to junior high/middle school competitions in cross country and track & field over the last two years; in 2018-19, the MHSAA also is serving as presenting sponsor at events for junior high/middle school volleyball and basketball. Similarly, the MHSAA will serve this winter as a presenting sponsor of a Special Olympics Unified basketball invitational in February at Novi High School and at the Michigan High School Powerlifting Association Finals in March at Ionia High School. Both high school events will include fields filled with MHSAA member high schools and provide the Association with further opportunities to provide financial and messaging support for these student-focused activities.

The Fall Meeting saw the addition of Nicole Carter, principal of Novi High School, to the 19-person Council. She was appointed to a two-year term. Carter fills the position formerly held by Pat Watson, principal of West Bloomfield High School, whose term ended. Also, Vicky Groat, principal and athletic director at Battle Creek St. Philip High School, was reappointed for a second two-year term.

The Council reelected Scott Grimes, assistant superintendent of human services for Grand Haven Area Public Schools, as its president; Saginaw Heritage athletic director Pete Ryan as 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.

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.