The MIAA's Board of Directors voted 11-2 in favor this morning of bringing the proposal for a playoff system that would award six true state champions in football to a special meeting this fall, where a general assembly will vote whether or not to approve and implicate the plan for the 2013 football season.
A previous proposal brought forth in 2010 by then-Plymouth North athletic director Bill Burkhead was rejected 192-114 by a general assembly, but this current proposal appears to have more support. The finance committee gave its support in April. Last month, the MIAA Football Committee approved amendments to the proposal, 15-2; a day later, the MIAA Tournament Management Committee voted 10-4 in favor of it, bringing the plan to its current place before the Board of Directors.
Outgoing Ipswich High principal Barry Cahill led the presentation before the Board of Directors, urging the members to focus on the first few pages of the 29-page proposal. Among the positives highlighted were that it eliminates the safety concern brought by playing three games in 10 days; it is less intrusive on the next season of sports, with 12 teams playing after Thanksgiving as opposed to the current crop of 74; the increase of participation in playoffs; revenue-sharing after Week 7; and travel limited to within the section area, with all 12 teams left playing at Gillette Stadium the first weekend of December.
Concord-Carlisle athletic director Barry Haley brought up the motion to table this to the fall, asking if the board had the authority to dictate this to the 365 member schools, to which Catholic Memorial Athletic Director Alex Campea countered that they do have the right, given the amount of approval votings by the various sub-committees.
"The majority of people on those committees are in favor of this," Campea said. "We talk about scheduling, and when we enter a tournament situation, none of us can dictate the schedule. You get a bracketed seed and play whoever the tournament indicates you play. That's the cost of every tournament -- you're stuck having to travel, it's never convenient based upon where you are in the tournament bracket.
"The bottom line is, all of the issues brought up have been diligently addressed from day one, and it would be a disservice to all prior committees if we don't move to vote on this."
Alluding to the potential changes coming in the state's lacrosse and baseball tournaments, Algonquin Athletic Director Fran Whitten added to Campea's point: "Are those going to go to a general assembly? It just seems odd to me at this point in time, with this many factors in place, that we're going to send this back to a general membership."
Others felt differently. Athol High Athletic Director David King noted that while the Western Mass. brethren voted 45-3 in favor of the proposal, they recommended to him they would like this plan to move to a assembly.
Outgoing MIAA Executive Director Bill Gaine raised some eyebrows when asked, "Let's not be precipitous."
Asked by a group of reporters following to meeting to explain his comment, Gaine elaborated: "“The football committee and the tournament management committee, last time, were not involved in the process. It was a special ad hoc committee, appointed by the board of directors...That reported back to the board of directors what their finding was."
"The finding was by an independent ad hoc committee that said, ‘No, we’ll take it and send it to the committee at your recommendation.’ This time it emanated through the process, just as defined by the government structure, to go to the football committee and anything that’s voted favorably out of the football committee, in terms of a tournament change, that would go to the TMC [tournament management committee]."
Cahill said he was not surprised at the decision to bring this to an assembly.
"Particularly where it went to the full membership last time, I certainly realized that they've had a lot of input coming into this vote, and so we did anticipate that this probably would go to the membership," Cahill said. "At least I think it was wise for them to do a fall meeting and not a spring meeting. I think it would have been hard to put this in place if they had waited until April, planning for September the following year. At least that's a wise move on their part."
Is there still time?
"I think it will just expedite whatever appeals there," he said. "I don't imagine anything in the plan will change between now and when the assembly sees it."
Several other items were brought forth on the agenda. The Board of Directors voted to reject applying two rules modifications the NCAA will be implementing for the upcoming football season. This fall, the kickoff line is moving to to 35-yard line, and the ball will be placed at the 25 yard line instead of 20 following a touchback.
The MIAA board also voted 9-5 in favor of aligning with the Department of Public Health's recommendations on physical examinations, and voted against allowing a one-game exception to finalists in the newly-established Worcester City Championship during basketball season. Holy Name defeated St. Peter-Marian in the inaugural eight-team tournament last February.