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MIAA Statewide Tournament Proposal to be Voted Feb. 28

By Robert Mingolelli
The MIAA Board of Directors voted, 14-3, on Wednesday to hold a special assembly of its mem- bership on Feb. 28, to vote on the statewide tournament proposal that is two years in the making by the Tournament Management Committee (TMC). This proposal has been in the works since early November 2016 when MIAA membership had concerns regarding tournament inconsistencies.
     If approved, the proposal will do away with the current tournament format in which champions are crowned in Central, North, South, and West regionals before advancing to the state semifinals.
     Instead, there would be a statewide tournament in which 32 teams are power seeded into four eight-team brackets with those champions moving on to the state semifinals (teams that finish .500 or better, but are not seeded would qualify for the tournament but have to play their way into the 32- team fields).
     “This has been going on for a few years,” said Grafton principal James Pignataro. “Athletic direc- tors, principals — there is a lot involved here and over a long period of time. The timing is right to move forward for this.”
• Gender Equity isues addressed
• Schools play likesized schools
• Path to Champioships is equal
• Same format used across the state
• One seeding and qualify- ing method for all teams
• Allows teams from same area of the state or league to play for championship
• Brings state together; new opponents; ADs meet ADs from other parts of the state
• Student athletes compete against student athletes they know from other MIAA educational programs.
     “It’s the biggest vote for the association, which includes 380 schools that belong to the MIAA,” Westborough athletic director and TMC member Johanna DiCarlo said.
     There was also talk of moving the annual meeting to March, but the TMC subcommittee of DiCarlo, former St. John’s Prep AD Jim O’Leary and Burlington AD Shaun Hart stressed time was of the essence.
     “The five weeks between the date proposed and the annual meeting is five weeks of work that we could be doing,” DiCarlo said. “Again, the subcommittee here is talking almost daily trying to continue to work on this, so those five weeks are really important for our subcommittee.”
     While the general concepts and format of the statewide tournament proposal are pretty much solidified, there are still finer de- tails that need to be ironed out. For example, the start and end dates of seasons, dates of the state semi- finals and finals, and who’ll serve where as tournament directors.
     The TMC also thought it was important to determine the outcome of the proposal before the state’s Athletic Directors gather for their annual conference at the end of March.
     “We could use that conference, whether it’s voted up or down, to take the next steps we need to move whatever format forward that we’re going to be seeing in 2021,” DiCarlo said.
     Each school will have one vote, to be cast by its principal or someone designated by the principal. A simple majority will determine whether the proposal passes or fails.
     While the TMC believes MIAA member schools have adequate information to vote on the proposal, it still is planning to hold regional workshops — perhaps targeting coaches in particular — to answer any lingering questions and concerns.
“I think people fully under- stand it,” DiCarlo said. “We cannot plan out every single detail. We can’t tell you exactly what’s going to happen in a tournament that’s never been done before.
     “But I think there is enough information for people to make an informed decision, it’s just whether or not they agree with it at this point.”
     “Propositions I like are that we (G-D) will compete in tour- naments that are against schools with similar enrollment,” offers Groton-Dunstable Athletic Director Matt Ricard.
     “We currently have 722 students at our high school. This format is based on enrollment only. Private school basketball will move up one division, vocational schools will move down two divisions. I don’t like the idea that a first round tournament game could be against a team in Western Ma. Travel cost could go up”
     The question is will the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association adopt a statewide tournament format in almost every sport beginning in the fall of 2021?
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