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MIAA Basketball Committee approves statewide alignments, sends plan to Tournament Management Committee

Sports Editor
Published: 5/14/2020 6:16:13 PM
Modified: 5/14/2020 6:16:03 PM

The MIAA Basketball Committee held its final meeting of the school year on Thursday, and voted on several measures, including statewide alignments for the 2021-2022 season.

Following a lengthy discussion, the committee approved via a 16-1 vote to advance the recommended alignments to the Tournament Management Committee.

The alignments are based on the subcommittee’s recommended five divisions, which was approved on a 17-0 vote. The five divisions were what the Tournament Management Committee (TMC) presented in its statewide tournament plan that passed at a Special Assembly on Feb. 28.

In trying to keep alignments fair and equitable, schools were split among the five divisions based on enrollment and factors such as private, vocational and cooperative designations.

In order to keep divisions balanced, both private and cooperative schools were automatically bumped up one division, while vocational schools were dropped two divisions.

In boys basketball, there are 69 teams each in Division 1 and 2, and 70 each in Divisions 3, 4 and 5. In girls basketball, there are 69 teams in each division.

The committee noted several placement issues and enrollment discrepancies within the boys basketball alignments.

For example, Putnam has been successful at the Division 1 level for several years, yet in the new alignment the school was placed in Division 3, due to the two-level drop as a vocational program.

Dwayne Early, the athletic director for Springfield Public Schools and District F representative on the committee, said Putnam would opt to move to Division 1.

Meanwhile, the bottom 11 teams in Division 4 have enrollments of less than 100. Most of these schools are parochial schools, including Pioneer Valley Christian Academy and Saint Mary from western Mass.

Whitman-Hanson athletic director and committee member Bob Rodgers was concerned with these schools competing against the top schools in Division 4, which have enrollment figures of over 1,000.

In anticipation that these schools would appeal to move down, Rodgers made a motion to move the top eight non-vocational teams, including Greenfield, from Division 5 to Division 4. These schools fit better in Division 4 according to Rodgers.

While the motion was heard, it was voted down 7-6 with four abstentions. The committee is putting the appeals process in the hands of the schools.

Schools that opt to move up, would automatically be approved, while schools that want to move down, need to appeal to the Tournament Management Committee. Appeals will not be heard based on a program’s on-court success. Appeals will be heard based on the following factors: school type (private, urban, co-op, vocational), participation numbers, large enrollment changes.

The girls basketball alignments differed slightly from the boys due to the number of all-boys schools and all-girls schools, but they were aligned using the same process and factors.

The committee voted to send the alignments to the Tournament Management Committee, which will meet virtually on June 4. The alignment cycle is for two years.

These are the divisions for local schools as currently aligned:

Division 1 – Holyoke.

Division 2 – Amherst Regional, Northampton.

Division 3 – Belchertown, South Hadley.

Division 4 – Easthampton, Frontier Regional, Hampshire Regional.

Division 5 – Gateway Regional, Granby, Hopkins Academy, Smith Academy, Smith Vocational.

After a brief discussion and adjustments, the committee voted 17-0 to approve the tournament format for the 2020-21 season and send it along to the TMC.

Among the changes, the committee marked a 7 p.m. deadline on the cutoff date of Feb. 18 to report scores to MaxPreps, which will seed teams for the upcoming season. (MaxPreps will be seeding teams when the postseason moves to a statewide tournament format for 2021-22.)

Sectional tournament semifinals were also scheduled to be played at the higher seed next season, not sites like the Curry Hicks Cage at UMass, or Western New England in Springfield. Western Mass. tournament director Lou Conte said there is a concern that host schools might not be suitable to host the potential large crowds that a semifinal would draw.

The committee voted 14-0-3 to move the semifinals back to a neutral site.

The committee voted on one rule change to send to the board of directors for approval.

This past season, the Merrimack Valley Conference experimented with allowing players to be eligible for six quarters.

The MIAA currently allows four quarters of eligibility for each player. Junior varsity players are sometimes called on to play “half and half,” meaning two quarters on JV and two on varsity.

This past winter, 20 of the 22 combined boys and girls teams in the MVC utilized the rule, which allowed players to gain more experience.

Based on the positive feedback from the MVC, the committee voted 17-0 to send the rule change to the board of directors. The rule would cover all levels of a program (freshman, JV and varsity) for one year before becoming permanent in 2021-22.

Mike Moran can be reached at Follow on Twitter @mikemoranDHG.

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