DI and DII state fields might each be 8 teams
By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
The number of teams in the softball and girls basketball Division I state tournaments will likely be reduced from 12 to eight next year if a proposal passed yesterday by Hawai'i's athletic directors clears its final hurdle on Tuesday.
The proposal, voted on by the Hawai'i Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association at its general assembly meeting yesterday in Lihue, would tie the tournament sizes to the proportion of teams playing in each division statewide.
The past two years, the Division I tournaments for softball and girls basketball had 12 teams each and the Division II tournaments four each, even though the ratio of DI teams to DII was not 3 to 1 in either sport.
If the measure is approved by the Hawai'i High School Athletic Association's executive board on Tuesday, next year's softball and girls basketball tournaments probably will have eight teams in each division.
"By no means do we want to take away berths we're going to be losing (Division I) berths ourselves," said O'ahu Interscholastic Association executive secretary Dwight Toyama, whose league submitted the proposal last year. "But you gotta do it this way, because every time you look at the parity between (Division I and DII) tournaments, it doesn't make sense. In some cases, you had a couple leagues that had only three Division I teams and the rest were DII (yet the DI tourney still was bigger)."
Toyama also was quick to add that although the OIA first submitted it last year, the proposal was tabled at the 2004 HIADA conference and an ad hoc committee made up of one principal and one athletic director from each of the five leagues was formed to research the issue during the 2005 sports season. He said their recommendation was 10-0 in favor of restructuring the tournaments.
The measure also made it smoothly out of Friday's HIADA conference committee and won by more than a 2-to-1 ratio at yesterday's general assembly vote, which included all 89 HHSAA member schools.
It still needs to win a majority vote at Tuesday's meeting, which will include one principal from each of the state's five leagues.
One concern, acknowledged by Kahuku athletic director Joe Whitford, was that reducing the Division I fields would be a financial risk.
"That's always a concern for the HHSAA, because usually it's the Division I teams that draw more fans," Whitford said. "But when you have the same number of teams (statewide) playing Division I and Division II, it's hard to justify (having different-sized tournaments)."
HHSAA executive director Keith Amemiya deferred comment until Tuesday's meeting. But Kalaheo basketball coach Chico Furtado, whose team has been an annual qualifier for the Division I state tournament, said he also is concerned about the financial impact of reducing the Division I entries.
"I have no problem with wanting to expand Division II, but I think it should stand on its own two feet," Furtado said. "It's OK to want to be equitable, but I don't think it's fair to ride the shirttails of Division I financially."
It is up to each league to declare before the season which teams will be in what division. Until that is done, the actual formulas for state tournament representation cannot be calculated and the impact on leagues will not be known.
Reach Wes Nakama at email@example.com or 535-2456.