Janesville56.9°

Board votes down WIAA district proposal

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JOHN N. BARRY
January 28, 2010
— Big Eight Conference football is alive and well.

At least for the 2010 season, and most likely for years to come.


The WIAA Board of Control voted 8-2 here Wednesday morning against implementing a plan for high school football that would group 428 member schools into seven divisions and assign them to eight-team districts.


Janesville Craig and Janesville Parker were included in a district-proposal plan that included Kenosha Tremper, Kenosha Bradford, Racine Case, Racine Horlick, Racine Park and Beloit Memorial.


Terry Reynolds of Pittsville and Ted Evans of Mineral Point were the only WIAA board members to vote in favor of the district proposal.


Citing the struggling economy and the expected increase in travel expenses under the district proposal, the WIAA board decided to look at alternative solutions to the ongoing problem of declining enrollments, declining participation and declining revenue due to schools not being able to fill a nine-game schedule.


WIAA Associate Director Debra Hauser said the district proposal made sense in theory, but in reality, it had too many obstacles to overcome.


“I kept hearing, ‘Why disrupt us because other schools have problems,’” Hauser said. “Well, the problems aren’t going to go away, but solving one problem seemed to create another.”


The board’s goal now is to have a footballonly conference realignment proposal for some areas of the state ready by June, with the plan set to launch for the 2011 season. Schools that are not happy with their conference affiliations or that are leery of steady declines in enrollment or players will be asked to work closely with the WIAA to find the best fit.


Under the football-only conference realignment plan, the number of schools included will be far fewer.


“It’s a fair assessment to say that there will be less schools impacted,” Roger Foegen, WIAA Board of Control president, said of the new football proposal. “It boils down to the district plan addressed the concerns that were brought from the membership, and that’s what the intent was...


“The (district) plan laid out was fair because it was based on enrollment. The problem was, do you want the plan based on enrollment as your key thing or on travel? And those two things just didn’t jibe.”


With the football-only conference realignment proposal, Foegen said, areas of concern can be addressed without disrupting the whole state.


That’s great news for the Big Eight, the Rock Valley, the Southern Lakes and the rest of the area conferences that didn’t want to lose rivalry games, find more money for an already limited travel budget or fix what isn’t broken.


The other main story to come out of Wednesday’s meeting was the unanimous support to eliminate the longstanding tradition of teams playing three postseason games in 10 days.


As it stands, a team that qualifies for the postseason can play on Tuesday and Friday of the same week and then the next Friday.


The impetus behind eliminating the format comes from a nationwide emphasis to educate coaches and players on the ramifications of concussions—with three games in 10 days supposedly leading to an increase in concussions.


The revised plan would mean starting the high school football season four days earlier and possibly playing two games before schools are in session.


The other options are to eliminate a scrimmage game, eliminate the ninth game of the regular season or push back the state championship finals to the Friday and Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend.


“We’re gonna solve this problem, and we’re gonna do what’s best for kids,” WIAA Deputy Director Wade Labecki said. “And with the climate right now as far as health, we need to address that.”



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