MIAA to revisit state football championship format, vote scheduled for general assembly meeting
The state of the current Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association football playoff system is in the balance after the MIAA's Board of Directors voted 15-1 on Wednesday to have the full membership vote whether to continue the current format.
The push for another vote was made by the 12-school, Boston-area Bay State Conference, according to Mount Greylock athletic director Lindsey von Holtz, who was a voting member of the board of directors present on Wednesday.
Wednesday's vote took place at the MIAA headquarters in Franklin.
The issue for the BSC athletic directors was over the nature of how the playoff format would be assessed.
When approved in 2012, the idea was for the program to be tried out for the 2013 and 2014 seasons and then voted on again to see if the format would stick. The initial pilot program stretched out into last season and will remain in effect for the upcoming football campaign in 2016.
According to von Holtz, the BSC athletic directors on Wednesday argued that the MIAA general assembly of 376 public and private high schools should have taken a continuation vote after the 2014 season. In 2012, the assembly voted 161-131 in favor of creating a state championship format. Before the change, there were 19 regional champions crowned every season.
Von Holtz, who supported another general assembly vote, noted that there was an issue over who was going to vote on keeping the format.
"One of their biggest concerns was that it was a two-year pilot, and not everyone in the room [at the time] understood what would happen after," von Holtz said. "Some thought it was the MIAA [that would vote], some thought it was the principals at the annual meeting. Their request was to bring it back to the entire assembly to bring to a vote."
The assembly vote will take place April 8 at the MIAA annual meeting being held at the DoubleTree hotel in Westborough, according to the MIAA website.
According to a tweet from Wicked Local's Keith Pearson, Fitchburg High School athletic director Ray Cosenza was the only MIAA board member on Wednesday opposed to the April 8 vote. Cosenza is also the lone board member who sits on football committee.
In a phone interview with David King, the president of the board of directors and the athletic director at Athol, the issue of a re-vote was something he thought the football committee, a subcommittee focused specifically on football matters, should handle.
"The board has taken up the issue multiple times over the last few years to decide the next step," King said. "We voted numerous times that the playoff structures should be the jurisdiction of the football committee."
King also noted that, if the general assembly votes against the current football format, the decision on how to proceed going forward would go back to the football committee.
"I think the irony of the whole thing would be that if it's voted down ... it would go back to the football committee to decide what to do next. There's no clear picture of what that next [step] would look like."
The old format had some teams playing three games in 10 days — Thanksgiving day, the following Tuesday, and then Super Saturday. If the assembly votes to get rid of the current format, King was skeptical that the health and safety committee would approve a schedule like the three-in-10 format from before.
Regardless of how the vote pans out in April, the current football format will remain the same for 2016. This format will include two additional state champions, as the divisional field expanded from six divisions to eight this year.
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