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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Prep athletic directors kick off conference today

By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer


With Lana'i and Moloka'i — two of Hawai'i's smaller islands — providing the scenic backdrop, the state's high school athletic directors will gather today through Friday at the Sheraton Maui to again analyze and vote on the prospect of a "small-schools" football tournament.

This year's proposal has a different twist, however, and thus could have a better chance of passing.

The 43rd annual Hawai'i Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association conference officially kicks off in Ka'anapali today with an opening general assembly at 3 p.m. Committee sessions begin at 5, with four different groups meeting to discuss and vote on a total of 46 recommendations, including implementation of a shot clock for girls basketball and a change to rally scoring for boys and girls volleyball.

Other proposals to be voted on

Although a Division II state football tournament recommendation likely will draw the most attention at this week's HIADA conference, some other key changes could occur in Hawai'i high school athletics if certain proposals earn enough votes. Here is a look at some of them:

Shot clock: The OIA is submitting a proposal to institute a shot clock for girls basketball only (the issue was never raised at the OIA's boys basketball evaluation meeting). The NCAA and many other high school associations use a shot clock, but the cost ($1,000-$1,700 per set) is a concern.

Rally Scoring: Several proposals have been submitted to change the current sideout scoring system to rally scoring. A switch was approved at last year's HIADA conference but was effectively vetoed by the HHSAA board a week later, mainly because the national federation had yet to approve a similar change. The federation has since approved a change for the 2004 season, so a switch to rally scoring in Hawai'i this year is likely to happen.

Water Polo State Tourney: The OIA recently completed its first season of girls water polo, so the sport now has the required three-league minimum to establish a state tournament. The other two leagues are the ILH and BIIF.

Combination teams: The OIA has submitted a recommendation to allow charter school athletes to participate with its league teams in HHSAA tournaments, and the ILH is proposing to allow a team of combined schools to participate in state tournaments. Pac-Five, a team of players from several schools, finished second in ILH boys soccer this past season but was ineligible for the state tournament under current rules.
The most high-profile proposal — a financially solvent Division II state football tournament apart from the current eight-team, all-level format — will be discussed along with six other recommendations in "Group I."

The football proposal was submitted by Hawai'i High School Athletic Association executive director Keith Amemiya with a format designed by HHSAA football coordinator Don Botelho. It is intended to offer smaller schools or football programs a legitimate chance at winning a state championship, something now considered unrealistic by many in the sport.

The nation's other 49 states all have some form of football classification to separate the large, powerful programs from the smaller, more modest ones.

"I don't see a downside to it," said Hawai'i Prep athletic director Steve Perry, whose football team lost to Castle 35-0 in last year's state quarterfinals. "You're only taking a tournament that has been very successful and making it better. There's only positives. It would be a great opportunity for a lot of small schools."

Similar recommendations have failed to win the general assembly vote in the past, including a 37-34 loss last year. But what makes this proposal different is Amemiya's promise that he and his wife will personally absorb any financial loss incurred by the new tournament in its first year.

"The proposal is for one year only and would need HIADA approval to be extended beyond the 2003 tournament," Amemiya wrote in an official memo highlighting the recommendation's key points. "Therefore, if classification is unsuccessful, it can be scrapped ... Of course, if classification is successful, it is hoped that it can be continued in future years."

Costs and questions about revenue had been main concerns for those against a Division II tournament in the past. However, even with Amemiya's financial guarantees, this latest proposal still faces opposition.

The O'ahu Interscholastic Association, with 22 football teams the largest of the state's five leagues, will push for classification in other girls sports to supercede a small-schools football tournament. The theory is that classifying sports such as girls basketball and girls volleyball will serve more schools and athletes, as well as address any gender-equity concerns.

"With the number of girls volleyball and basketball teams (compared to football), we think we should do that first," Farrington athletic director Harold Tanaka said.

Waipahu athletic director Hartwell Leeloy added, "We're not necessarily against a Division II (tournament), but we just want to involve the girls first."

The football recommendation would leave it to each league to determine which schools would be in the Division I tournament and which would be in Division II. Waiakea athletic director Ken Yamase said that poses concerns.

"What if our league champion goes into the Division II tournament — then we could be sending our runner-up into the Division I," Yamase said, pointing out that small-school HPA won the Big Island Interscholastic Federation championship last season. "We wouldn't be sending our best team to the Division I tournament."

The proposal will be discussed today and again tomorrow if necessary. Even if it doesn't make it out of committee, it can and probably will be submitted via a "minority report" to be voted on by the general assembly Friday morning.

Most everyone expects a close vote.

"It's gonna be a hot one," Tanaka said. "A real doozy."