IHSA Board Approves Regular-Season Football Contact Restrictions

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The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Board of Directors met at its regularly scheduled meeting at the IHSA office in Bloomington on Monday, June 15, 2015, where the Board approved a joint recommendation from the IHSA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and Football Advisory Committee to limit the number of hours and days each week that an IHSA member school football team is allowed to have full live contact during full-pad practices.

“The IHSA has been an innovator on player safety throughout its history,” said IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman. “We appreciate the efforts of the medical professionals and high school football coaches who worked together on these changes in order to keep the safety of Illinois high school students at the forefront.”

The Board approved two separate changes to IHSA Policy 13 - Football Policies. The first change goes into effect on the Monday preceding the first allowable regular-season football game each August (Week 8 of IHSA standardized calendar). At that juncture, football teams will be limited to three days of live full contact per week, with a total of 90 minutes of live full contact to be used over the course of those three days. The second change allows only one practice per day to contain full live full contact when practicing two times on a single day during the preseason acclimatization period.

“These changes will have little impact on the practice plans for most high school football programs around the state of Illinois,” said Batavia High School Head Coach Dennis Piron, a member of the Illinois Advisory Council on Player Safety. “Coaches understand now more than ever how important it is to have their players performing at their peak on Friday nights, factors that run the gamut from nutrition to offseason training to practice habits. These policy changes will help further standardize practices and protect students-athletes from risk of an injury.”

The IHSA Board initially reviewed the recommendations at its meeting on April 21, 2015 with plans to vote at the June meeting.

“I am proud to be part of the proactive approach the IHSA continues to make for student-athlete safety,” said Wauconda Principal and IHSA Board President Dan Klett. “As a former coach, and a parent of a current high school football player, it is imperative to me that we listen to the all the invested parties, from a state and national perspective, to make sports as safe as possible.”

***The IHSA will be reaching out to schools in the near future about an interactive webinar to provide more information and answer questions on the Policy change, as well as the changes to the playoff format (see below, Action item #2)***

1. The Board approved the interpretations for changes to By-law 3.034.3, which goes in effect on July 1, 2015. The by-law change passed by the IHSA membership in January “allows the (IHSA) Board of Directors to approve international programs that do not appear on the list of the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET), and thereby confer eligibility to students in those programs.”

Prior to the by-law change, international students could only obtain eligibility if they entered an IHSA member school via a CSIET-approved foreign exchange program. The IHSA Board set the specific guidelines that will be used in determining eligibility in these situations at their meeting on June 15, which can be viewed by clicking here.

IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman:
“High schools around the country, and especially in Illinois, have seen an influx of international students enroll throughout the past decade. Many of these students are new to sports and simply want to experience a team setting as a part of their high school experience. That was difficult under our previous by-law, but this change will allow for their participation, while still safeguarding against programs that are placing international students in high schools based solely on athletic ability.”

2. The Board approved a recommendation to adopt changes presented by an ad hoc committee on IHSA Policy 18 – Grouping and Seeding.

Beginning in 2015-16, team-bracketed sport teams (Baseball, Basketball, Soccer, Softball, Volleyball) in Class 1A and Class 2A, as well as those outside of Chicagoland in Class 3A and 4A, will now be assigned to two Sub-Sectionals (as opposed to four Regionals) that feed into a Sectional site. Each Sub-Sectional will be seeded and the top two seeds sent to different regional sites. The competing regional site of the remaining teams in each Sub-Sectional will be determined by geography.

In Class 3A and Class 4A team-bracketed sports, teams will continue to be placed in the current Sectional Complex format as long as substantial travel does not require them to be placed in the aforementioned Sub-Sectional format.

In the IHSA Football Playoffs, Class 1A-6A will be seeded in two geographic brackets 1-16, eliminating the previous mileage component within the Policy that would change the bracket to quadrants if certain travel mileage distances were exceeded. Class 7A & 8A will now be seeded 1-32.

Click here to read Policy 18 changes

IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman:
“We appreciate the hard work by the ad hoc committee in creating their recommendation. Given the size and diversity of our state, it is very difficult to formulate a state tournament that adheres to the IHSA’s traditional geographic assigning principal, while also attempting to maintain competitive balance at each level of the tournament. The Board felt like this was a good compromise that will be well-received by coaches and student-athletes around the state. Given the current economic climate we live in, the Board will always be cognizant of travel and its impact, and noted that they will study the impact of this policy change moving forward.”

3. The Board approved a recommendation to authorize the enrollment classification cutoffs for all of the IHSA’s sports and activities for the 2015-16 school year.

The cutoffs and school-by-school class listings will be posted on Wednesday, June 17 and can be viewed by clicking here.

4. The Board approved extending the state final hosting contract for Speech Individual Events at the Peoria Civic Center for five years from 2016-2020.
IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman:
“The IHSA conducts a number of state final events at the Peoria Civic Center and enjoy a first class experience with each. The venue is a great fit for this Speech event, and the staff and city continue to offer a welcoming atmosphere. We look for to five more years there.”

5. The Board approved a recommendation to adopt new Broadcast Rights Fees for internet video streaming of IHSA State Series events. The IHSA’s allocation of the rights fee for postseason events will remain the same, however, modest increases have been built into the fee structure to be split between the two schools competing in the broadcasted event. The updated fees for the 2015-16 school year will be posted here on Thursday.
IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman:
“The IHSA currently has the lowest rights fees of any state association in the NFHS Network, and likely the country. The modest increases approved by the Board will bring us closer to the national average, but more importantly, help safeguard our competing schools from lost gate receipts and reimbursements that can result from a live broadcast.”

6. The Board approved a recommendation to open the lacrosse entry process to schools in August. If 65 schools enter to participate in the Boys Lacrosse State Series and 40 schools enter to participate in the Girls Lacrosse State Series, then the IHSA will begin to formulate a process for hosting an inaugural State Final tournament.

7. The IHSA Board approved the recommendation to rename the Illinois High School Association Foundation (IHSAF) Golf Outing the Dr. Marty Hickman Illinois High School Association Foundation Golf Outing in honor of his service to the IHSA.
IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman:
“We started this golf outing 20 years ago to help kickstart funding efforts for our academic recognition programs, and it has certainly been a success. I never expected something like this (naming the tournament after him), but am very appreciative and humbled by it.”

Minutes from all Advisory Committees can be viewed by clicking here.

1. The Board approved the consent items, from the Advisory Committees in the following sports & activities: Boys & Girls Basketball, Boys & Girls Bowling, Competitive Cheerleading, Competitive Dance, Boys & Girls Gymnastics, Boys & Girls Soccer, Boys & Girls Swimming & Diving, Wrestling, Athletes with Disabilities, Chess, Journalism, Music/Solo Ensemble, Music Organization, Athletic Officials, Scholastic Bowl, Speech-Debate, Speech-Individual Events, Drama & Group Interpretation, Sportsmanship, Sports Medicine, Student Advisory Committee, Athletic Administrators and Activities Director.

The lone exception from the consent item was the Sports Medicine Administrative Recommendation #2 (Guidelines for Managing Heat and Humidity), which was tabled as it awaits review from the Korey Stringer Institute.

Consent items are recommendations that received approval from the sport/activity advisory committee, the Athletic Administrators Advisory Committee and the IHSA staff. Consent items can be viewed by clicking here.

No non-consent items were approved.

Some items of note include:

Officials Advisory Committee
1. The IHSA will design and provide at no cost a special patch for IHSA Officials who are military veterans to display on their uniform.

Boys & Girls Swimming
1. Sectional Qualifying standards for 2015-16 were approved (see them via consent link above).

1. If a wrestler weighs in two weight classes above a certified weight, then the wrestler would recertify at one weight class above his certified weight. (I.E., a wrestler that has weighed in at 132 may weigh in at 132 or 138. If that wrestler weighs in at 145, that wrestler may not weigh in lower than 138 the rest of the year).

1. “Feature Photography” category changed to “Photo Story Telling”.

At each meeting of the Board of Directors, there are certain items the Board discusses, but upon which no action is taken. The following is a report of those items from the June 15, 2015, agenda:

1. The Board heard a presentation from IHSA Assistant Executive Director Shaunda Brown on the IHSA Boys & Girls Tennis State Series if from one class to two classes. The Board has asked the IHSA staff to survey tennis playing schools in the fall and present those results as a part of the Town Hall Meetings in November, with a Board vote to follow in the spring of 2016.

2. The Board heard a report from Chicago (University) Athletic Director Dave Ribbens, Lombard (Montini) Principal Maryann O'Neill, and Niles (Notre Dame) Principal Dan Tully, representing the Interscholastic Council of Private Schools (ICOPS), on the changes to the multiplier waiver and success factor, which will go into effect in the 2015-16 school year. The IHSA Board and ICOPS will meet at the conclusion of the 2015-16 school year for a joint review of the Policy.

3. The Executive Director is proud to present the 2015 IHSA Distinguished Service Award class, who will be honored at a banquet on June 15. The 11 honorees are:
Kelly Cummings
Sara Flanigan
Michelle “Mickey” Klement
Chris Livatino
Barb Maue
Randy Oberembt
Carole Rassi
Keith Rassi
Joe Ringham
Dan Stephenson
Williams Taylor

4. The Board heard an update from the Executive Director on the 2015 NFHS Summer Meeting.


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