In August 2021, the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) Board of Control approved the creation of the Competitive Balance Ad Hoc Committee. The committee's directive was to study competitive balance/equity, evaluate the existing procedure of post-season tournaments, and make recommendations.
The Board of Control received nominations for more than 200 school and district administrators who volunteered to serve on the committee. Emphasis for inclusion on the committee was given to having representation that reflects the composition of the membership, including public and private schools; small, medium, and large schools; and the three levels of school leadership, comprising athletic directors, principals, and presidents or superintendents. Gender and ethnicity representation was also considered. A total of 20 committee members were selected.
In creating the committee, the Board of Control charged it with holding a series of meetings from the committee's first seating on Dec. 2, 2021, to March 2022. Central to the work of the ad hoc committee was its presentation at the March 2022 Board meeting, with the potential to recommend an action item that the membership will vote on at the 2023 Annual Meeting in April.
This is the second time a committee has been assembled to review competitive balance. The first committee met five times from July 2014 to November 2014. Its recommendation was introduced and advanced to the Annual Meeting the following year, in which the WIAA membership voted not to implement the plan.
The purpose of this web page is to serve as a clearinghouse for committee-related information.
The Committee's Work:
The Competitive Balance Ad Hoc Committee, which was selected by the Board of Control, represents the great diversity of the WIAA membership and includes public and private schools; small, medium, and large schools; and the three levels of school leadership, comprising athletic directors, principals, and presidents or superintendents. Gender and ethnicity representation was also considered.
As part of the committee's work, it created the following purpose statement for itself:
The purpose of the Competitive Balance Ad Hoc Committee is to thoughtfully and intentionally research the association's ability to hold tournament series in which all members feel their school has an opportunity to be competitive; and based on this research, the committee will recommend option(s) to the Board of Control to help ensure all members feel their school has an opportunity to be competitive.
Based on its charge and purpose statement, the committee created the following operating principles for itself:
We believe the committee will analyze data and other information to determine if there is a problem with the current playoff structure.
We believe the committee will keep the student-athlete's well-being at the center of the discussions.
We believe the committee will adhere to a communications plan.
We believe the committee will share information and evidence through the process with the stakeholders along with the explanation of the decisions.
We believe the committee will provide a possible solution(s) to the competitive balance topic to the Board of Control and membership.
A Focus on Transparency:
The committee did its work openly and transparently. In addition to providing regular updates to the board of control, the committee provided ongoing updates to members by email and video and shared information at in-person meetings.
Use of Data:
Using data collected and analyzed by Baird, the committee unanimously agreed that competitive balance issues exist and should be addressed. The committee agreed that athletes, coaches, parents and administrators perceive that some schools have unfair advantages or disadvantages.
While enrollment is currently the only factor used for divisional placement, committee members agreed that times have changed and other factors should be considered to create more competitive balance.
Based on the work done by the committee and a review of many plans submitted by WIAA members and those being utilized in other state associations, including consultation with those leaders, the committee developed a Competitive Balance Plan.
As proposed, beginning with the 2024-25 school year, after using school enrollment to make the initial determination, as has been the case for decades, a tournament performance factor will be used to determine divisional tournament placement for all WIAA sports.
The tournament performance factor will be based on the following. Points will be awarded based on the team's finish in the tournament series over three years. Teams will receive 4 points for winning a state title and 1 point for advancing to the state quarterfinal, for example.
Each WIAA school may submit a request form to the WIAA indicating the classification in which the school wishes to compete. Based on enrollment, requests for reclassification and the tournament performance factor, the WIAA will then determine in which classification-level a school should compete. A school will be promoted to a higher level when a team has achieved six or more points over a three-year period. A school failing to meet the designated deadline will not be permitted to request a classification other than the one assigned by the WIAA.
Schools will be evaluated by the tournament performance factor after each season, and it will be calculated and applied on a sport-by-sport basis. Teams promoted using the tournament performance factor will be promoted to the next higher division for the next year. No team will be moved to more than one division per year.
A classification committee, comprised of members serving three-year terms, will hear appeals made by schools and will consider the following factors when placing programs in a higher or lower division upon a school's appeal:
● Prior year out-of-building student percentage on rosters or historical movement of student-athletes
● Socioeconomics of the school's population
● Demographics of the school's population
● Competitive history and balance
● School's enrollment trend
● Student participation rate in WIAA-sponsored activities
● Admission policies of the school concerning student enrollment
All schools will be allowed to appeal their placement to the classification committee using the aforementioned factors as the rationale. A successful appeal requires a favorable vote of a simple majority of those classification committee members voting. All decisions of the classification committee will be final.