By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The selection of a new venue for its Team Wrestling Finals highlighted actions taken by the Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association during its annual Winter Meeting on March 27 in East Lansing.
The Team Wrestling Finals will be hosted by McGuirk Arena at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant for two years beginning with the 2016 tournament. The Team Wrestling Finals previously had been hosted by Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek since their inception in 1988.
McGuirk, formerly Rose Arena, is part of the CMU Events Center and reopened in 2010 after the facility underwent $22.5 million in renovations. McGuirk seats 4,867 fans for wrestling competitions, and the building also features adjacent practice areas that will be utilized by teams competing at the MHSAA Finals.
Rose Arena formerly served as host of the MHSAA Girls Basketball Finals from 1997-2003.
“We are grateful to the athletic directors, staff and volunteers whose time and energy factored heavily into creating and growing the Team Wrestling Finals at Kellogg Arena,” MHSAA Executive Director John E. “Jack” Roberts said. “The decision to move from Battle Creek was not an easy one. However, we believe Central Michigan University offers us a fantastic opportunity to continue growing one of our most popular championship events.”
The Representative Council also continued discussions on three issues which may require action at meetings later this calendar year.
Continuing its examination of athletics at the junior high/middle school level, the Council discussed recommendations submitted by the MHSAA’s Junior High/Middle School Committee, including one which may come up for vote at the Council’s May meeting. It is a request for a membership vote to amend the MHSAA Constitution to allow for school membership beginning at the 6th grade. If the Council approves, the amendment vote likely would occur in late October after another round of membership meetings.
The Council also continued its discussion of potential changes to out-of-season coaching rules and considered results of surveys taken during the MHSAA’s Update Meetings in the fall and by athletic directors and leaders of leagues and conferences during the late fall and winter. The major changes in rules that were proposed for discussion last summer have not gained traction with the MHSAA membership, but three modifications intended to give school coaches longer and more flexible contact with their student-athletes out of season during the school year will receive Council action in May.
Continuing its work regarding the eligibility of international students, the Council also approved that MHSAA staff continue reviewing school-operated international student programs for the purpose of granting students athletic eligibility at MHSAA schools. A proposal first approved at the March 2014 meeting granted the MHSAA authority to grant athletic eligibility to students placed through an Approved International Student Program that had not been accepted for listing by the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET), so long as that Approved International Student Program is not eligible for CSIET consideration and listing. CSIET will only review existing programs, but the MHSAA’s supplemental process will allow programs too new for the CSIET process to gain approval for 2015-16.
Those international students placed through an Approved International Student Program are eligible for a maximum of the first two consecutive semesters or three consecutive trimesters at any secondary school in the United States, after which the student is ineligible for interscholastic athletic competition at any MHSAA member school for the next academic year. International students who do not meet one of the residency exceptions recognized by the MHSAA or are not enrolled through an Approved International Student Program or CSIET-listed program may become eligible after one semester to participate at the subvarsity level only.
The Representative Council is the legislative body of the MHSAA. All but five members are elected by member schools. Four members are appointed by the Council to facilitate representation of females and minorities, and the 19th position is occupied by the Superintendent of Public Instruction or designee.
The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,400 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.4 million spectators each year.