Longer hop seasons: Basketball, hockey among high-profile sports approved for changes by Michigan High School Athletic Association governing body | News, sports, jobs


Jeffers ‘Kyle Mattila, left, and Levi Frahm, right, battle for the position as they try to exclude Westwood’s Luke Olson in the fourth quarter of their MHSAA Division 3 district championship game, played at the Patriots’ fitness center on March 11th. (Photo courtesy of Daryl T. Jarvinen)

EAST LANSING – As the season ended barely more than a week ago, high school basketball seasons are probably the most high-profile changes passed when the Michigan High School Athletic Association Board of Representatives approved a number of items at its annual winter meeting on March 25th.

The council approved a proposal from the Basketball Committee that from next season will allow teams at all high school levels to play 22 games in the regular season, up from the maximum of 20 that was allowed for many years. This change brings Michigan in line with what is allowed in most other Midwestern states.

As part of the proposal, mandatory pre-season training was reduced by one week, which depending on when these training sessions are allowed to begin, may move up at the start of the basketball seasons to have more time to fit into the extra matches.

The Representative Council is the legislative body of the MHSAA. All but five members are elected by the member schools. Four members are appointed by the council to facilitate the representation of women and minorities, and the 19th position is occupied by the inspector of public instruction or appointed.

The winter meeting of the Board of Representatives often serves as an opportunity for it to discuss topics that are expected to come into action at the last meeting of the school year in early May.

However, the Council took a number of steps at this meeting as they relate to the ongoing planning for the school year 2022-23 or for spring tournaments in May.

The other comprehensive proposals approved include the following:

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• Post-Season Tournament Classification – A proposal from the Classification Committee was OK to better reflect the number of schools actively sponsoring teams that season. Since divisions are intended to be divided equally based on the number of teams playing a sport, it was found that some divisions with the smallest schools had fewer teams, as some small schools declared that they sponsored a team and then would be unable to do so for various reasons.

Now, schools that state that they will sponsor a sport but have not participated in the sport as a team or with individual qualifications during the last two years will be removed from the classification process before the divisions are determined. Schools that are removed must notify the MHSAA that they have an active team before being added back to the tournament.

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Wheelchair Athletes – A proposal for cross country / track and field was confirmed to allow for more MHSAA tournament options for wheelchair athletes. From the spring athletics season, regional and finals events will include four events for wheelchair participants – the 100-, 200- and 400-meter races and shot put. They will be open to wheelchair athletes at MHSAA member schools.

And in swimming, the municipality would expand the possibilities for the Paralympic post-seasons by adding a 100-yard freestyle heat in addition to the 50 free heats that had been offered since 2020. It was not stated whether this only includes Lower Peninsula finals or Upper peninsula too.

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• Former softball and baseball districts – The committee’s proposal was approved to allow the district’s first round matches to be played the week before Memorial Day, rather than only after this holiday in late May. Specifically, baseball was OK’d for pre-Memorial Day Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and softball for the same Thursday and Friday.

It is expected to alleviate concerns about pitch-count in baseball and provide planning flexibility in later district rounds, which could allow these athletes at many smaller schools, who also participate in athletics, the opportunity to participate in both after Memorial Day.

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• The limits for hockey collaboration programs were relaxed – The enrollment ceiling for cooperative hockey programs, which is nearly half of the state’s programs, was raised from 3,500 total students involved in the cooperative to 5,500. Schools participating in hockey cooperatives must continue to receive the approval of the Executive Committee and demonstrate a proven lack of participation in the sport.

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• Football opt-ups – A draft classification committee was approved to allow football teams to join divisions following the annual release of classifications for the upcoming season in late March or early April. With the approval of the Executive Committee, teams can sign up for one division and by showing justification and justification for their request. Opt-ups will be for at least two years with requests only raised at its April and May meetings.

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Benefits of Officials – A proposal to the Audit and Finance Committee was approved to provide increased benefits to MHSAA-registered gaming officials, including increases in post-season gaming fees across all sports. These MHSAA officials will also be members of the National Association of Sports Officials, which extends liability insurance plus additional resources and professional services for all of these registered officials.

Also approved as part of the A & FC plan was a change in the registration process and fees for automatically giving each official registration in two sports.

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School transport in the summer – Changes were OK to allow the use of school transport in the summer, but it must be funded from school-approved activities in booster clubs, school teams, student groups and community, community or service groups.

It included the use of buses, vans, and other vehicles owned or leased by a school district or operated by any entity with which the district has entered into a contract to provide transportation services.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.



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