By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
An adjustment to the Ice Hockey Tournament schedule was the most notable action taken by the Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association during its annual Winter Meeting on March 22 in Grand Rapids, while a number of additional topics were discussed in advance of expected votes at its next meeting.
The Winter Meeting frequently serves as an opportunity for the Council to discuss items expected to come up for action at its final meeting of the school year, scheduled for May 5-6. However, a proposal from the MHSAA’s Ice Hockey Committee required immediate action as it affects the 2019-20 regular and postseason, and schools are in the midst of building their schedules for that sport.
The Council approved a proposal that will change the number of weeks for the MHSAA Tournament in ice hockey from two to three, spreading the maximum of six games that may be played from the start of Regionals through Finals over 20 days instead of the previous 13. This change goes into effect with the 2019-20 tournament.
The dates for the start of the regular season and Finals (second Saturday in March) will remain the same, as will the total number of regular-season games allowed. However, the MHSAA Tournament will begin on the third Monday before the Finals instead of two weeks before.
Also concerning tournaments, the Council heard updates on proposed seeding plans from the Basketball and Soccer Committees, along with a summary of how seeding currently is utilized in boys lacrosse and team wrestling. The Council also discussed a Football Committee recommendation that would change the strength-of-schedule formula used to determine qualifiers for the MHSAA 11-Player Playoffs, and reviewed results of a survey of varsity head coaches on the topic. Both seeding proposals and the football strength-of-schedule proposal will be voted upon in May.
In advance of the new sport-specific transfer rule taking effect with the 2019-20 school year, the Council considered possible adjustments that may need to be made beforehand, including ones regarding residential changes. The possible changes would go into effect with the new transfer rule and will require action at the Spring Meeting.
The Council heard a report on mental health initiatives being formulated by staff, which has conducted a pair of meetings and received valuable input from a variety of parties with interest and expertise in this area. The Council also received an update on how other states are considering esports and reported responses staff has received from school administrators and others with current or potentially future involvement.
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 1,500 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.