After 31 years with the Minnesota State High School League, nearly all of them as the league’s executive director, Dave Stead announced Tuesday that he plans to step down from the position Feb. 1.
Stead made the announcement before a league board of directors meeting at Ruttger’s Bay Lake Lodge in Deerwood.
Stead, 74, began his career with the league in 1986 and was officially named executive director in March 1988. He is the longest-serving executive director in league history and the nation’s second-longest tenured leader of a state high school athletic association.
“Jack Roberts in Michigan has me by a year,” Stead said with a laugh.
In his tenure, Stead has overseen many high-profile changes in policy and procedure, including expanding the number of classes in sports, strengthening eligibility requirements for student-athletes who change schools and implementing an adapted athletics program that has become a model for other states. In 2014 he led the organization through a controversial decision regarding transgender athletes and access to locker rooms.
“I wouldn’t trade the last 31 years for anything,” Stead said. “We’ve had some ups and downs and a lot of successes. The best part has been doing those things to benefit the schools and the kids.”
Stead will remain with the league in a more limited capacity as a senior staff member, helping out where his experience and expertise would be beneficial. “It’s an opportunity to look at other things but still stay connected,” he said.
The league’s board establishing a timeline for selecting his replacement.
Also at the meeting, the league moved a step closer to approving the use of replay in the football state semifinals and Prep Bowl. Guidelines were established to review turnovers and scoring plays. Other reviewable instances include plays in the last two minutes of the first half that impact the clock, and other plays in the last two minutes of a game, including whether a player was in-bounds and if a pass was caught or intercepted.
“It would be of limited usage,” Stead said. “We’d do it only if we have a controversial play that we can review and get right before the next play. We’re not going to delay the game.”
The board stopped short of giving the measure full approval to explore how adding replay would mesh with the National Federation of High Schools football rules. Stead said a final decision would be made at the league’s October board meeting.
The board also approved $597,769 to reimburse schools to defray costs associated with participating in state tournaments. That is an 8.7 percent increase over 2016, when the league reimbursed schools about $550,000.