About WIAA | Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association

About WIAA


What is the WIAA? Why was it established?

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, as defined by its Constitution, is a voluntary, unincorporated, and nonprofit organization. The Association membership has a diversified membership of public high schools, nonpublic high schools, public middle schools, and nonpublic middle schools.

The purpose of the Association is...

... to organize, develop and control an interscholastic athletic program that will promote the ideals of its membership and the opportunities for member schools’ participation.

...to emphasize interscholastic athletics as a partner with other school activities in the total education process, and to formulate and maintain policies that will cultivate the high ideals of good citizenship and sportsmanship.

...to promote uniformity of standards in interscholastic athletic competition, and prevent exploitation by special interest groups of the school program and the individual’s ability.

Governing Structure

The WIAA is governed by its member schools. Rules and policies of the Association are developed, promulgated and implemented by the membership either through membership vote for constitutional issues or through a membership-elected committee structure for sport seasons regulations. Therefore, ownership of the membership’s rules and regulations, as well as the responsibility of compliance with them, lies with each member school. How are Rules Developed or Changed?

For changes to the membership’s Constitution, Bylaws and Rules of Eligibility, a vote of the entire membership is required at the Annual Meeting each spring. Changes to the sport seasons regulations are advanced through the democratic committee structure. The Constitution contains information relating to the Association as an organization. The Bylaws encompass information relating to member high schools’ responsibility concerning WIAA rules and regulations. The Rules of Eligibility embody information relating to the relationship of the student-athlete to the high school and the WIAA.

The Board of Control has the ultimate authority in determining the outcome of sport seasons rule recommendations and regulations. Among the advisory groups that provide input to the Board are the coaches advisory committees for each sport; the sports advisory committee, comprised of school athletic directors from each of the seven districts; the advisory council, consisting of school administrators from each elector district; and the executive staff. Other groups with advisory responsibilities include the medical advisory committee, sportsmanship committee and the officials advisory committee. The Season Regulations address, among other topics, definition of the sports seasons, participation, contest control and tournament procedures. View Organizational Structure.

The National Federation of State High School Associations is the authority of the competition rules for sport contests (i.e. uniforms, length of contest, game rules). As a member of the NFHS, the WIAA adheres to those rules as a member in good standing. The WIAA, as well as all state associations in the NFHS, has input with an advisory role in the review and promulgation of the playing rules. The NFHS office is located in Indianapolis, Ind.

Currently, the Association sponsors State Tournaments for 27 sports with tournament series for baseball, basketball, cross country, 8-player, 11-player  football, golf, hockey, lacrosse, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, volleyball, and wrestling for boys, and basketball, cross country, golf, gymnastics, hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, volleyball and wrestling for girls.

Interscholastic Athletics: Important Part of a Total Educational Experience

The National Federation of State High School Associations recently published updated information asserting the value of participating in interscholastic activities. The data continues to support, with overwhelming evidence, that being part of school programs enriches the lives of millions of students each year on a national scale, including nearly 90,000 in Wisconsin.

The “Case for High School Activities” presents volumes of research and survey data that dispels myths or misconceptions that involvement in school activities may be a diversion to a quality education.

Participation the Key

Students that participate and are engaged in school programs, whether it’s athletics or any other extracurricular activity, have less truancy, lower drop-out rates, fewer disciplinary issues and better grade point averages on average than their peers that have no involvement. In 2007, the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise reported that students who took part in more vigorous sports like soccer or football performed nearly 10 percent better in math, science, English and social studies classes. Similar findings were produced by a survey in Minnesota in 2007.

It may also be undeniable that involvement in high school activities bodes well for participants after high school as well. According to researchers in a 2005 study, participation in extracurricular activities gives all students--including those from disadvantaged backgrounds and those without stellar academic accomplishments in high school--measurable improvements on college admission exam scores. Furthermore, students who compete in sports in high school were more likely than those not participating to be active in volunteering, voting, speaking publicly and being aware of current events.

Similar results were confirmed in a 2003 Journal of Adolescent Research report. It indicates high school extracurricular participation leads to fewer school drop outs, greater community involvement, greater academic achievement and a plethora of other positive outcomes. Perhaps the most important impact of participation in high school activities is the short- and long-term personal and emotional benefits that lead to making appropriate choices. According to a United States Department of Education article published in 2002, those who have no involvement in interscholastic activities are 49 percent more likely to use drugs and 37 percent more likely to become teen parents.

Their Impact and Value

The volume of materials and information supporting the values and life-long lessons learned through interscholastic activities is vast. However, we must be careful not to take extracurricular opportunities for granted or underestimate the impact they have on schools and a school’s community.

Interscholastic events are one of the largest windows into what is being taught and learned in our schools. There is no doubt that great things are being learned in traditional classrooms to prepare students for life beyond school; however, access to these learning environments are far less common for those outside the school. This fact makes school activity programs–proclaimed as extensions of the traditional classroom–even more valuable.

Therefore, it is increasingly important to demonstrate to those that live, work and pay taxes in the community the value of extracurricular activities. In the current climate of tightening school budgets and referendums that threaten to reduce funding for extracurricular programs, it is imperative for schools to embrace school activities that nurture its students.

Those school districts electing to consider reducing or eliminating school activities must also consider the consequence of such a decision.

Here’s where schools face a dilemma.

With school choice a viable option through open enrollment or private school enrollment, many families may choose neighboring schools or districts that offer those same programs considered to be vulnerable at a student’s current school. It’s not difficult to envision the ramifications of schools eliminating opportunities. Student allocation dollars will follow those students to their school of choice, leaving even less resources available for the district they abandon. If there is a mass exodus, which is quite conceivable in some districts, the fallout would be devastating to schools and their communities.


Typically, the average cost of extracurricular programs is less than one percent of most school budgets, making them a fantastic bargain and value. This fact, combined with the unintended consequences of a districts considering either reducing or cutting its programs, makes extracurricular activities a resource schools must embrace and protect.

WIAA History

The WIAA takes pride in proclaiming that it is the first high school athletic association organized in the country. The history of the WIAA goes back to late 1895 and early 1896 when meetings were held involving people interested in promoting (but not necessarily regulating) athletic competition between Wisconsin high schools.

The meetings developed as a result of a state track meet conducted in May of 1895 by the University of Wisconsin - Madison. This state track meet was the first such venture undertaken anywhere in the United States. The first State champion of any kind recognized under WIAA rules was Milwaukee West in track in 1897, although Milwaukee East is recognized at the first State track champion in 1895.

The first State champion in basketball was Fond du Lac in 1905 when Lawrence College of Appleton conducted an invitational tournament. Wisconsin Normal School Athletic Directors began running a State Tournament for high schools in 1916 and Fond du Lac also was that tournament's first champion. The WIAA did not begin running the tournament program until 1920 but goes back to 1916 to consider its first official State champion. Lawrence College discontinued its invitational after 1918.

Wisconsin became a charter member in 1923 of the organization which now is known as the National Federation of State High School Associations. P.F. Neverman, the WIAA's first executive head, played an influential role in the formation of that organization, and in 1984 he was named to the National High School Sports Hall of Fame sponsored by the NFSHSA. The National Federation has had only three executive heads, and one of them was Clifford B. Fagan (1957 to 1977) who earlier was executive secretary of the WIAA. Fagan also is in the high school's Hall of Fame. John E. Roberts became executive secretary at the time Fagan went to the Federation office, and he held the position for 29 years until Dec. 31, 1985, when he retired. Douglas E. Chickering became the WIAA's fourth executive director on Jan. 1, 1986. Chickering retired on July 31, 2009. Dave Anderson succeeded Chickering as the Association's fifth executive director on August 1, 2009 and retired on July 31, 2021. Stephanie Hauser became the sixth executive director on July 1, 2021.

The first WIAA offices were located in Marinette as established there when Neverman became Executive Secretary. The offices remained in Marinette until 1958 when they were moved to Stevens Point. The WIAA constructed an office building in downtown Stevens Point when it came to the community in 1958. But, after outgrowing its original facility, the WIAA built again, this time in Park Ridge on the eastern edge of Stevens Point in 1964. The building got an addition in 1978, and it is located on Highway 10 about a mile west of the Highway 51 beltline. In June of 1999, the WIAA moved into its current Executive Office Building in the Portage County Business Park located at the junction of Interstate 39 and CTH HH. The 16,000 sq. ft. facility is home to the members of the WIAA Executive Staff and support staff.