Changes are on the horizon for several Wisconsin high school sports.
Last week, the WIAA Board of Control voted in favor of several recommendations at its quarterly meeting.
The biggest change comes in boys and girls varsity basketball, where beginning with the 2020-21 season, teams will be allowed to play a 24-game schedule. That’s two more games than the current 22-game maximum.
Janesville Parker boys coach Matt Bredesen said the WIAA’s decision is a win/win for everyone involved.
“It’s great for basketball,” Bredesen said. “It’s a 3 1/2-month season, and a lot of times, especially in February, you might only play one game a week. This gives us a chance to fill those holes in the schedule.
“And it puts us on par with the states around us like Minnesota and Illinois that are already playing more games than we are. It’s a chance to maybe play in a Showcase-type tournament somewhere with those two extra games, while still having four other nonconference games.”
Parker and Janesville Craig play in the Big Eight Conference, which has primarily played conference games on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Craig girls coach Kerry Storbakken says the additional games could bring Tuesdays into the conference scheduling mix.
“Even though we play an 18-game conference schedule, a lot of times in January and February, if you’re playing a Friday night (conference) game, that might be the only one you play that week,” Storbakken said. “This gives us some flexibility.
“It’s a long season, and it’s nice to break up the monotony of the conference season with nonconference games. The Badger Conference plays eight nonconference games now and we only have four. And I don’t think you’ll have any trouble filling out your schedule with nonconference games.”
Scheduling the two extra games shouldn’t be a problem despite city gyms being used for wrestling and gymnastics during the winter season, according to Chris Nicholson, the Athletics Assistant for the Janesville School District. It’s likely only going to be one home game for the Craig and Parker boys varsity teams and one home game for girls varsity teams. And teams could also schedule to play the two additional nonconference games in a one-day or two-day tournament outside of town.
Ben McCormick is Craig’s boys basketball coach and the school’s athletic director. He called the WIAA’s decision “a good move.”
“I think more than anything, it shows support for the kids,” McCormick said. “They’ll never complain about playing more games.
“I’ve always wanted to play in a holiday tournament, and now we’ll get that chance. We’re going to play in Waunakee’s holiday tournament and now won’t have to sacrifice by giving up any of our other nonconference games.”
The other basketball change clarified that individual participation limits will be determined by number of halves. The maximum number of halves for a student-athlete’s participation in a season remains at 66.
Other changes were adopted in boys golf, wrestling, boys and girls hockey and gymnastics, along with approving two recommendations from the Medical Advisory Committee.
The boys golf season starts one week later in 2020 to accommodate the American Family Insurance Championship. The PGA Champions event is being held the same week in 2020 as the state boys golf tournament at University Ridge Golf Course was originally scheduled. The new dates for the state meet in 2020 will be June 15-16 at University Ridge.
Also, the Board of Control approved a new overtime procedure in hockey for all WIAA tournament series games.
Teams will remain in the bench area for a three-minute break to be followed by an eight-minute, sudden-victory overtime period. If a winner has not been determined following the first overtime, a 15-minute intermission with ice resurfacing will precede a 17-minute, sudden-victory overtime. If a tie remains, the procedure will repeat.
Janesville Bluebirds coach John Mauermann said the new format has its plusses and minuses.
“It helps to have the ice resurfaced, but for me personally, I’d rather keep playing until you decide a winner,” Mauermann said. “Fans aren’t paying to watch a guy drive the Zamboni around during a 15-minute intermission in overtime.
“But I also understand why they (WIAA) approved it. It’s to give the kids a break. You’re adding eight more minutes to the second overtime, but you’re also giving the kids a 15-minute rest.”
The Medical Advisory Committee’s recommendation increases the maximum head, neck or cervical injury evaluation time from four minutes to five minutes. Also, any student-athlete that loses consciousness must be medically evaluated and cleared to play before being allowed to return to participation.