When the MIAA approved the switch to statewide postseason tournaments starting in the fall of 2021, its plan called for a maximum of five divisions based on the number of programs in a given sport. The expectation was that adjustments may be needed for certain sports, and this week the MIAA’s Football Committee voted to stick with its current eight-division setup.
Committee members unanimously approved staying with eight divisions — the number that has been in place since 2016 — in large part to ensure that more teams will have the opportunity to qualify for the postseason. The proposal will now go to the MIAA’s Tournament Management Committee, which is scheduled to meet next on June 4. A hockey-specific divisional structure is also expected to be taken up at that meeting as well.
In addition to the vote for eight divisions, the MIAA Football Committee also heard a proposal by the Mass High School Football Coaches Association that would call for sweeping changes to the structure of the season as a whole. The proposal would include a nine-week regular season and only eight playoff teams per division, and the playoffs wouldn’t begin until after Thanksgiving, which proponents say would help restore the prestige of the historic rivalry games. The proposal would also eliminate the need for consolation/non-playoff games, but it may also require a later start to the winter season. The committee will form a subcommittee to examine the proposal and other potential options, which would be finalized by March of 2021.
Thursday morning the MIAA’s Basketball Committee met to discuss its future divisional alignments and other potential changes ahead. During the course of the meeting the committee voted in favor of switching to five divisions which is what the Tournament Management Committee had recommended and is up from the four divisions currently in use. The committee also voted to request a one-year reprieve from the TMC from the planned change to have higher seeds host tournament games through the sectional semifinals. Several committee members expressed concern that many schools might not have enough seating capacity to host a sectional semifinal and that many fans could be turned away as a result.
The committee also unanimously voted to request that the experimental six-quarters rule used by the Merrimack Valley Conference this past winter, which allowed players to play in six quarters per day instead of just four, be implemented permanently for all teams. That request will now go to the MIAA’s Board of Directors.