Friday May 11, 2012

The MIAA is one step closer to both a state football playoff system and a fourth division for its state basketball system.

Two committee votes in the past two days have moved a state football proposal to the MIAA Board of Directors for a June 7 vote. The association’s Football Committee supported the proposal by a vote of 15-2 on Wednesday, and the Tournament Man agement Committee voted 10-4 on Thursday to support the proposal.

The Tournament Man agement Committee also voted in favor of expanding Division IV boys and girls basketball to include all of Massachusetts, beginning in 2013. Currently, Division IV is an Eastern Mass.-only division. The TMC’s vote was 13-0 with one abstention.

Football Committee District G Representative Dayne Poirot, Hoosac Valley’s co-athletic director and new football coach, feels the football proposal in its current form has a much better chance for approval than the proposal voted down two years ago.

Still, his optimism is tempered by what he’s been told in many committee meetings over the last year.

"I know the [Board of Directors] made it very clear to everybody that they were going to take all of these as advisory votes, not as any type of final decision, when it got to them," Poirot said.

The current football proposal would establish a state championship system in six divisions throughout Mass achusetts, with Western Mass. schools participating in four of those divisions. It would also maintain current leagues and Thanksgiving Day games throughout the state, which the 2010 proposal did not.

Western Mass. alignments in the proposed system were set up by Poirot, Athol athletic director Dave King, Western Mass. football tournament director Joe Doyle and athletic directors from each league in the section.

The board of directors can accept the proposal, send it back to the TMC and/or football subcommitee, delay it or vote it down outright. Poirot said the proposal has Berkshire County’s support when it comes to high school football.

"Most of them that I’ve talked to about it [are in support]," he added. "I think it only benefits us."

Lee’s Art Reilly is the District G (Berkshire County) athletic director representative on the basketball subcommittee, and was one of the 13 who voted in favor of the divisional expansion.

"I think it’s a good step forward," Reilly said. "It puts most of our teams in a better position enrollment-wise to compete for a state title."

The reason a Division IV state title would not be contested until the 2013-14 school year is because the coming year is the final in the four-year cycle of where schools are placed in divisions.

When the change comes in 2013, schools will be locked in for the next four years.

Currently, there are three divisions in basketball. The fourth division would move some teams from Division I into II and so forth.

Reilly did say that a team that was moved down could appeal to play back in the division from where it came.

With the moving of teams around, it is possible that a longtime rival of the Lee girls basketball team could be in the Wildcats’ way en route to a potential Western Mass. title. Some Central Mass. schools could become Western Mass. schools.

"The divisions will not be balanced numerically," said Reilly. "A school like Quaboag will move into Western Massachusetts."