STEVENS POINT - The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Board of Control passed a statewide football-only conference realignment proposal and supported a raise in ticket prices for sectional and state tournaments at its April meeting Tuesday.
The board unanimously approved its final consideration of the football-only conference proposal crafted by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association. First approval of the plan was granted by the Board with a 9-2 vote at its meeting in March. Membership rules required a 40-day window for schools involved in realignment plans to appeal the first consideration of the Board before it took final action Tuesday. Fifteen schools filed concerns or appeals of the initial vote by the April 10 deadline and were presented to the Board.
One of the schools that appealed was Hayward which, along with co-op partner Lac Courte Oreilles, will move into the Great Northern Conference for football.
The plan, which will be implemented in the 2020 season, gives uniformity to the number of schools affiliated with a conference and makes certain programs have enough conference games for playoff qualification.
"As I indicated when the board gave its initial support of the plan, this was an enormous undertaking and a groundbreaking venture for the WIAA," Executive Director Dave Anderson said. "This was a good-faith effort, and there was openness to alternative ideas, 'big-picture' thinking, and widespread acceptance of the final decision. It's also important to convey that at any time there is 100 percent agreement of all impacted members, relief can be fast-tracked."
In the future, football-only realignment will follow the conference realignment procedures approved by the board at its meeting in January.
The board voted to increase the ticket price of sectional tournament events by $1 from $5 to $6, and to increase state tournament tickets by $2, from $6 and $8.
It's the first ticket increase at the sectional level since 2014 and at the state level for a majority of sports since 2004.
Ticket prices for the state boys' and girls' basketball tournaments remain unchanged.
Revenue from the increase in ticket prices will allow for an increase in game fees paid to regional and sectional contest officials and tournament game managers, as well as an increase in school state tournament travel reimbursement, tournament game officials travel reimbursement and WIAA board and committee travel expenses.
Another notable board action was authorization of an extension to the agreement with Select Sport America as the official soccer ball partner of the WIAA tournaments through 2024.
The deal identifies the "Royale" soccer ball as the official soccer ball of the WIAA.
The "Royale" is the ball exclusively used for the WIAA sectionals and state tournaments.
The Board also approved a special election for the gender at-large position and a medium schools representative on the Advisory Council, as well as the approval of appointments to the Officials Advisory Committee and the winter sports season co-ops.
The merger of the Northern Edge and Lakeland girls' hockey co-ops was among the winter co-op applications filed to the WIAA prior to April 1.
A message from the River News to a WIAA spokesperson to confirm that new co-op was among those approved Tuesday was not returned as of deadline Wednesday.
The WIAA was conducting its annual meeting of member schools Wednesday morning in Stevens Point.
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