MIAA Tournament Management Committee approves football, wrestling alignments; tables fall discussion

Sports Editor
Published: 7/28/2020 4:51:29 PM

The MIAA’s Tournament Management Committee met virtually for the first time in the new fiscal year on Tuesday.

After welcoming in new members, the group approved tournament alignments for football and wrestling, and stood pat on making any decisions regarding the fall athletic season.

At the TMC’s previous meeting, the group voted down the recommended alignments by the Football Committee. The TMC and Football Committee formed a joint sub-committee to review the alignment process, which came to a head Tuesday.

The Football Committee presented an alignment plan that centered around dropping the cooperative factor.

When the TMC charged sport committees to align teams, they were told to use a set of guidelines to create alignments with consideration to geographic, sectional and divisional equality.

Schools were arranged by enrollment, with single-gender schools doubling their number and cooperative schools using the enrollment figure from the largest school in the co-op. Private and cooperative schools were then moved up one division from enrollment placement. Vocational schools were placed down two divisions.

When the Football Committee returned Tuesday, its latest proposal did not use the cooperative factor. Teams were aligned among the eight divisions with private schools moving up one and vocational schools dropping three divisions rather than two. With no cooperative factor, this left 35 teams in each of the eight divisions prior to the appeals process. The reasoning for dropping the cooperative factor was simply that cooperatives were formed in order for teams to survive.

There was mixed review from the TMC about dropping the cooperative factor. Northampton High School Assistant Principal Kara Sheridan said teams in western Massachusetts need co-ops to survive and that having the co-op factor in place would “hurt” these programs if they were moved up.

Other members of the TMC thought some co-ops would take advantage of being in a lower division in order to be successful. Some wanted to keep the factor in place and use the appeals process to sort out the teams.

The alignment plan was ultimately voted down by a 4-8-2 count.

Following a discussion on how to proceed, the TMC voted 8-5-1 to accept the alignments using all the factors: private and cooperative teams move up one division, vocational teams drop three divisions.

Wrestling

The TMC approved the Wrestling Committee’s alignment plan and process by a 10-2-1 vote.

Since wrestling will use a sectional tournament format, rather than a statewide tournament, each section needed to be balanced. In order to accomplish a balanced alignment, the Wrestling Committee added Division 2 in the West for the first time since 1993. The vocational factor was also changed from moving down two divisions to moving down one division.

The plan calls for 51 teams in Division 1, 55 in Division 2 and 57 in Division 3, with some schools moving to a different section. Sheridan asked why some neighboring schools in western Massachusetts with similar enrollments are competing in different sections. Wakefield Athletic Director Brendan Kent, who is a member of the Wrestling Committee, said they “had to draw a line somewhere.”

The TMC noted that the appeals process could change where teams are placed. Since sectional tournaments need to be balanced, if one teams moves up or down, another needs to move in the opposite direction.

This two-year alignment cycle could also be the last time hybrid sports have sectional tournaments. A subcommittee will be formed to look into the feasibility of statewide tournaments for hybrid sports like wrestling, swimming & diving, track & field, etc.

NOTES — The new TMC members are Montachusett Tech Athletic Director Dave Reid, Lynn English AD Dick Newton, Hull AD Scott Paine (Hull), Shrewsbery Principal Todd Bazydlo and Dennis-Yarmouth Principal Paul Funk.

The TMC voted 12-0-1 to keep its current officers in place: Chair Jim O’Leary, assistant to the principal at St. John’s Prep; vice chair Mary Ryan of Rockport High School and secretary Pam Gould, the superintendent for the Sandwich Public Schools.

While the TMC acknowledged the Board of Director’s vote to amend the start of the fall season to Sept. 14, the group took no action on the fall season. While there was some discussion around what a fall season could look like (i.e. competition pods defined by league and/or geography, truncated seasons), the group tabled any vote due to a lack of information from the state. The TMC has a meeting scheduled for Aug. 18, but they could meet earlier pending further announcements from the state.

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




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