WIAA Executive Director Stephanie Hauser and her staff continued to hear from member schools that competitive balance remains a concern that member schools want to investigate.
That’s why the WIAA formed an ad hoc committee on competitive balance last year, appointed committee members in November, and began meetings to study the competitive balance among member schools and recommend solutions.
The committee met again on January 6 at the organization’s headquarters in Stevens Point and on January 18 virtually to develop its purpose and operating principles.
“We’re making really good progress on that,” Hauser said in a recent interview with the WIAA office.
After the Jan. 18 meeting, the committee said its goal was to “thoughtfully and intentionally research the ability of the association to run tournament series in which all members feel their school has the opportunity to be competitive; and based on this research, the committee will recommend one or more options to the Board of Supervisors (WIAA) to help ensure that all members feel their school has the opportunity to be competitive.
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“Members have been very clear that they want a defined competitive balance and if and what the solution should be,” said WIAA Associate Director Mel Dow.
The committee’s goals, according to a statement from the WIAA, include analyzing data and other information to determine if there is a problem with the current playoff structure; keep the well-being of the student-athlete at the center of discussions; share information and evidence throughout the process with stakeholders as well as the explanation of decisions; provide a solution or possible solutions regarding competitive balance to the Board of Control and WIAA members; and adhere to a communication plan.
“It started when private schools joined public schools, there was the real or perceived notion that private schools had an unfair advantage,” Hauser said. “In 2014, this committee was created to study it. What they found is that with open registration, it’s really not a private-public debate anymore. It’s really come from that.
“It’s more access to kids, access to coaches, access to club opportunities. It’s a lot more factors than I think people once thought it was a simple issue – it’s private versus public. Most of our members will tell you that is not what it is anymore.
This is the second time that a committee has examined the competitive balance.
The first committee met five times from July to November in 2014. The committee was tasked with studying the competitive/fairness balance and evaluating the existing post-season tournament procedure and recommending a solution.
According to the WIAA, this committee established criteria to evaluate potential solutions, including applying criteria to specific sports; addressed to schools in rural and urban areas; and enforced a universal app for all member schools.
Solutions sought included a 1.65 multiplier for private school enrollment, a reduction plan based on the percentage of students receiving free and reduced lunch, and a success factor based on tournament advancement. previous ones.
The success factor was put forward for a member vote. However, members voted to reverse this recommendation at the 2015 annual meeting. It was replaced with an amendment for the 1.65 multiplier, which was defeated by 141 votes to 293. A second amendment was introduced to implement the reduction plan, but this also failed 167-265.
The following year, the committee’s recommendation on success factors was reintroduced and brought forward by the Board of Control at the annual meeting. It was rejected 198-221.
“We think what we have is always the fairest way to do things, which is just based on geography or registration,” Hauser said.
But she said members wanted to look into the matter again, adding that the committee would thoroughly investigate the complicated subject.
“Now there’s a whole list of factors,” Hauser said. “The big question: is there a solution to fix it? Is there? That’s the big question. If there was, someone would have already discovered it. The last time there was a vote, the success factor failed, but it was almost a 50-50 split. That tells me that about half of our members think we need to do something.
“So I think it’s really important for the committee to meet because we’ll be communicating with members throughout the process to let members know what’s going on, to let them know where it’s going, to tell them what data we look at, to get input, and then ultimately if something comes in the form of an amendment, I think our members will feel really well informed and they’ll vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ .
The committee plans to provide a report to the Board of Control in March and to members in April, she said. This could include a proposal or an amendment, but the committee does not promise that, she said.
In November, the Board of Control named 20 people to the committee, including Madison Edgewood athletic director Chris Zwettler.
The WIAA said the committee wants to work as transparently as possible, including providing a feedback form for administrators on the Competitive Balance home page on the WIAA website.