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Board Advances Constitutional Amendments; Approves 8-Player Football & Fast Track Realignment

Friday, March 5, 2021

Board Advances Constitutional Amendments; Approves 8-Player Football & Fast Track Realignment

STEVENS POINT, Wis. – The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Board of Control voted to advance three Constitutional amendments to the Annual Meeting in May, approved three fast track and 8-player football conference realignment plans, as well as passing spring participation COVID-19 guidelines at its March meeting today.

The Board reviewed and advanced the two amendments to the Constitution and one to the Bylaws that will be voted on by the membership at the Annual Meeting rescheduled for May 26, 2021.

Two of the amendments address football deadlines for declaring co-op team configuration and 8-player or 11-player sponsorship status. The first would require all football co-op requests to adhere to an Oct. 15 deadline and adds a Board of Control interpretation to review football realignment applications on a two-year cycle in even years. The second amendment requires schools to determine sponsorship in either 8-player or 11-player football-only by an Oct. 15 deadline on the same two-year cycle in even years.

The amendment impacting the Bylaws would create a penalty for spectators ejected from an interscholastic athletic competition for flagrant harassment or unsporting conduct. Ejected spectators would be required to miss the next competition. Host school administration would be required to record and submit an ejection report to the WIAA.

The Board approved an 8-player football plan that impacts the entire state and forms 11 conferences. The plan with a composite listing of the detailed conference affiliations is linked below and available on the “Requests and Proposals” option on the WIAA’s Conference Realignment web page.

8-Player Football Realignment Plan

In other conference realignment action, the Board approved three fast-track applications not football related.  Altoona will move from the Mid-Western Soccer Conference into the Middle Border Conference for girls soccer only, beginning in the spring of 2022 and into the Middle Border from the West Division of the Cloverbelt for all other sports except football in the fall of 2021. The Board also approved Bloomer entering the West Division of the Cloverbelt from the Heart O’ North Conference in all sports except football in the fall of 2021.

The Board remanded an 11-player football plan that impacts 23 schools back to the Conference Realignment Task Force, which will reconvene to re-evaluate the plan and four new proposals on April 6. Schools directly impacted by any reconsideration or changes to the existing plan will be notified. A plan will be brought back to the Board for final consideration at its April 16 meeting.

Additional action items approved by the Board are the 2021 spring sports participation COVID-19 guidelines shared with member schools and posted online today, the 2021-22 fall cooperative teams and maintaining the membership’s three-year probationary status for new member schools to participate in the WIAA’s Tournament Series.

The Board set the date and time of its next meeting to be held April 16 at 9 a.m., with the May meeting to be held on May 25 at 2 p.m. The Board also authorized moving the date of the Annual Meeting to May 26 in hope of conducting an in-person meeting. A virtual attendance option will also be made available with voting on amendments to be held prior to the meeting.

Following a review of the association’s financial information, the Board discussed its disaster authority and will consider an emergency assessment of membership-wide fees to sustain operations until unrestricted admission to WIAA Tournament Series events resume. After temporarily suspending membership dues and fees in 2015, the Board permanently eliminated member dues and fees in 2017, with the stipulation of granting the Board “disaster authority” to levy fees in the event of a membership emergency.

After further consideration and discussion, the Board anticipates further review prior to voting on a fee. The assessment would accompany each school’s annual membership renewal form emailed in June and due no later than Aug. 1, 2021.

As a private, voluntary organization, the WIAA receives no state or federal funding. Its viability to provide service to members is reliant on tournament gate receipts, which typically accounts for 87 percent of revenue to fund operations. Over the past five years, the WIAA has returned nearly $13.1 million to members with its shared revenue formula.  In addition, members have saved approximately $2.54 million since the elimination of dues and fees in 2015.

The WIAA lost a significant source of funding with the cancellation of the Girls and Boys Basketball Tournaments in 2020 and severely restricted attendance at all WIAA Tournament Series events in 2020-21. The WIAA has sustained operations and has continued to conduct culminating events for 18 months by utilizing its operational reserve and receiving the two installments of PPP funding. Current projections reveal operating reserves to be depleted by August or September of this year.

Other items shared with the Board was a legislative update on the Officials Assault Bill LRB-1335/1 and a Virtual Charter Schools Bill SB-39/AB-62, a bill introduced this week to prohibit transgender females from participating in girls sports, the status of a UW requirement of background checks, a legal update on two pending eligibility-related cases, and a report on the winter season tournaments and the alternate fall season.

The Board received liaison reports from John Ashley of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, Mike Thompson of the Wisconsin Department of Instruction and Nathan DeLany of the Wisconsin Athletic Directors Association.

The WIAA, as defined by its Constitution, is a voluntary, unincorporated, and nonprofit organization. The membership oversees interscholastic athletic programs for 515 senior high schools and 48 junior high/middle level schools in its membership.

# WIAA #

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