Rep Council Wrap-Up: Winter 2018

March 28, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

With a number of important topics filling the agenda for its Spring Meeting this May, the Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association prepared for a number of possible votes by receiving and requesting additional information during its annual Winter Meeting on March 23 in East Lansing.

The Winter Meeting frequently serves as an opportunity for the Council to discuss items expected to come up for action at its final meeting of the school year, scheduled for May 6-7. Since June of 2017, the MHSAA has been pushing several projects forward – with work on the transfer rule and junior high/middle school sports receiving the most emphasis.

Addressing the chronically troubling nature of transfers in school sports, the MHSAA has facilitated nine months of discussions with leagues and administrative groups across the state to develop a proposal that would make the transfer rule sport-specific – that is, a rule that bases current eligibility on the sports an athlete has participated in in the past. The proposed new rule would make transferring students ineligible at a new school in the sports they played the previous year at their old school. However, transfer students would be immediately eligible in any sport they didn’t participate in the previous school year. A list of exceptions, including a change of residence, would still allow for transferring students to become eligible in all sports.

The Council discussed how support for this potential transfer rule change has grown, and suggested the MHSAA send further explanation of the proposal to school superintendents and principals before the meeting in May.

“Since last summer, there has been membership-wide discussion of proposals that pursue the elusive goal of adopting a transfer rule that is simpler and easier to understand and, therefore, more consistently enforced,” MHSAA Executive Director John E. “Jack” Roberts said. “There appears to be broad consensus that we are on the right path.

“If adopted by the Council in May, the full effect of the changes would not be felt until the 2019-20 school year. What sports are actually played by a student during 2018-19 would determine that student’s eligibility after a transfer for 2019-20.”

The Council also is continuing work on a number of efforts related to the MHSAA’s growing presence at the junior high and middle school level. Under consideration is a proposal increasing the number of contests permitted within the maximum 13-week seasons for several sports, and another proposal relaxing or eliminating the Limited Team Membership regulation for most sports at that level. The Council also is considering expanding the MHSAA’s role as a presenting sponsor at events involving junior high/middle school students.

MHSAA membership at the junior high/middle school level has increased by more than 100 schools – nearly 14 percent – and nearly 70 percent of 800 member junior high/middle schools have begun accommodating 6th-graders in their programs since the MHSAA’s Constitution was amended in 2015 to allow 6th-graders to be included.

“The emphasis on policies and programs related to 6th-, 7th- and 8th-graders is essential if sports at the high school level will remain relevant to students and useful to schools which are trying to engage youth in 21st-century learning,” Roberts said. “We’ve also put many policies under a microscope to see if they can be modified to respond to our customers’ desires for more competition at the 6th- through 8th-grade levels while remaining faithful to our mission of providing these younger student-athletes the opportunity to sample sports and develop new interests and skills.”

A number of other topics were discussed during the Winter Meeting in advance of actions that could take place in May or at the Council’s Fall Meeting in December:

• The Council is considering two leading options for setting the girls and boys basketball regular-season and MHSAA tournament schedules after the 2018-19 season. For 2018-19, for the first time, the boys and girls seasons will flip start and end dates, with the boys starting and ending their season first. This will be done to adjust to the availability of Michigan State University’s Breslin Center to host the boys Semifinals and Finals. For 2018-19, no other arena available is large enough to accommodate the crowd that traditionally attends the final games of the boys postseason.

One option for 2019-20 and possibly beyond includes continuing the current strategy of using multiple sites for Semifinals and Finals weekends while accommodating Breslin (or another largest arena’s) availability – for example, this year’s Boys Semifinals and Finals were played at Breslin, while the Girls Semifinals and Finals were played at Calvin College’s Van Noord Arena because Breslin was not available for the girls weekend. (Breslin and Van Noord will be used for the 2019 Semifinals and Finals weekends as well, again to accommodate Breslin’s availability.) The second option would put the girls and boys tournament schedules over the same three-week period and use the largest available arena to host games on only two days; Semifinals would be played at various sites for both genders, with all four girls and boys championship games played at the largest arena during one weekend.

• Also in girls and boys basketball, the Council will consider possibilities for seeding the top two teams in geographically-determined Districts. MHSAA staff have created plans for possible implementation as requested by the Council at its May 2017 meeting.

• In football, the Council is considering options to assist 8-player football schools with their regular-season scheduling.

“While transfers and junior high/middle school programs are fundamentally more important than single sport issues, we have an eye on several that will generate significant interest,” Roberts said. “Schools which sponsor 8-player football will be receiving plans to assist their scheduling of regular-season games, and they will be asked to provide reactions through an online survey during April.

“Basketball continues to have two issues which have more public interest than genuine importance. One – the boys and girls tournament schedule and championship venue after 2019 – is moving toward a vote in December. The other – limited seeding of boys and girls District tournaments – is scheduled for action in May.”

The Council also talked about ways of involving more junior high/middle school students and at more grade levels, and what possible new high school sports might draw students with a wider variety of interests and abilities. There also was discussion on how eligibility and transfer rules are applied to boarding school students and what modifications would promote competitive equity between boarding schools and both public and nonpublic schools.

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.