IHSA decides to push back changes until 2015

News-DemocratJune 16, 2014 

The Illinois High School Board of Directors on Monday voted to delay implementation of the controversial "success factor" and new multiplier waiver changes until the 2015-16 school year.

The changes, approved in February, originally were scheduled to go into effect in 2014-15. In playoff-bracketed sports other than football, private, non-boundaried schools would move up a class if they twice participated in the final four of their particular sport or activity over a four-year span.

In non-playoff bracketed sports, schools would move up a class if they win two trophies at the state finals over four years.

"The changes to Policy 17 are significant, so it is important that the membership has a strong grasp on their history and implementation," IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman said in a release. "The 'success factor' will affect about three percent of the membership, but the waiver changes will have a considerably larger impact. It will be a positive step to gain feedback from the membership, as well as to make sure we have a full understanding on how these changes influence other factors, such as classification cutoffs."

Central High School Principal Kent Jones is the IHSA Board representative for Division 7, which covers the metro-east and part of southern Illinois.

"I think this was a major change and normally the process that it goes through is the town hall meetings in November," Jones said. "It never happened there was never an opportunity in November to talk about it, because it hadn't been introduced or proposed yet.

"A lot of board members were talking about people in their divisions that just didn't have a handle on it and were confused it."

As a result, Jones and other board members felt allowing town hall meetings to be held in November would allow for more discussion -- and even more potential by-law proposals if schools want to go that route.

"We want to give them an opportunity to express their opinions, to ask questions and get a better handle on the success factor policies and how it's going to work," Jones said. "With this delay, it gives schools an opportunity to have by-law proposals. If they want to change something in regards to what they've heard, there's an opportunity now.

"To me, it is a better way to make sure the membership understands what it's all about."

The IHSA Board also on Monday approved some "success factor" policy language, changing the original rule to read that if a private, non-boundaried school wins two state trophies in the two most recent school years, that school will be subject to moving up a class.

Under the new plan, Mater Dei would have been a 4A team in the state volleyball playoffs next season. Now the Knights will remain in 3A, at least for now.

"I'm not complaining," Mater Dei Principal Dennis Litteken said after hearing about the decision to wait a year for implementation of the new guidelines. "I'm glad to hear it, unless they realized it's not fair to the kids currently involved in the schools.

"We were very concerned about our volleyball team being put into 4A next year. We're still affected by the multiplier, but at least we're not doubled."

The IHSA said it will release the official enrollments and playoffs classification cutoffs for the 2014-15 school year later this week.

In other action, the IHSA approved a recommendation to accept bids to host to the boys and girls state finals from 2015 through 2020. The girls state tournament is currently held at Illinois State University's Redbird Arena in Normal, while the boys state tournament is held at Carver Arena in Peoria.

A decision on where future state tournaments will be held is expected to be announced in February, 2015.

"In no way does this decision construe that we are unhappy or expecting to change venues for either event," Hickman said. "However, our board feels like it is healthy for the process to open up these bids on occasion.

"Certainly Peoria has written its own chapter in the storied history of March Madness, while innovating with the introduction of the March Madness Experience, an event many other associations from around the country have tried to emulate."

* Another recommendation approved was to form a subcommittee to review current IHSA guidelines used to group and seed the state playoffs. Coaches and athletic directors in the metro-east have been critical of pairings supposedly based on geography that included loaded, top-heavy regionals with some of the best teams in the area.

Many coaches have stated their preference for a sectional complex seeding process for sports like basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball and soccer where the top two or top four teams would be placed in different regionals.

"The move to true geographic regional assignments occurred about a decade ago in response to school administrators looking to cut travel costs when gas prices were hitting all-time highs," Hickman said. "Throughout the years, there have certainly been isolated instances where schools have voiced frustration over a regional's perceived strength or lack thereof.

"Over the past year or so, that voice has grown louder from conferences and schools around the state."

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, nsanders@bnd.com or follow him on Twitter: @NormSanders

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