When a full round of consolation play for the boys and girls’ basketball state tournaments was approved by the Minnesota State High School League in June 2015, most believed it was imminent. Yet more than a year later, having a full round of consolation games is still in the fact-finding stages, which doesn’t sit well with some athletic directors.
Returning to a traditional consolation bracket for the basketball tournaments was one of the liveliest topics Thursday at the Minnesota State High School League board of directors meeting. A full consolation bracket was disgarded when the league brought the entire four-class state tournament to the Twin Cities in the 1990s. To accommodate all of those games, it did away with the first round of loser bracket games and currently hold just a third-place game in addition to championship round contests.
Many schools outside the metro area objected to the notion that a team might get just one state tournament game if it lost in the first round, saying it was tough for fans to travel to the see one game without assurances of a second.
“Some parents would say they would wait and see how the team did in the first round and plan to come down if they won,” said Esko Athletic Director Chad Stoskopf, citing uncertainty in planning for costs as a reason to ensure a second game.
After approving the measure, the league put a year-long moratorium on implementation to figure out the specifics and address the added costs, with many assuming it was a formality. Now, after discussing but not moving forward Thursday, it appears that the final determination on consolation play will take place at the next board meeting on Dec. 1.
“A lot of people thought it would be done by now,” Stoskopf said. “I think there are some people who are a little frustrated.”
Other meeting news:
• Schools in the league’s representative assembly have until Nov. 11 to vote on an amendment to the league constitution to dedicate two board seats to school district superintendents. Currently, no superintendents sit on the board. “It’s important for all voices to be heard when it comes to the well-being of students,” league Executive Director David Stead said.
• The top five teams in each class at the softball state tournament will now be seeded, after the precedent set in other sports. The board also approved a rule change to implement a mercy rule to call a game if one team leads by 15 runs after four innings (three-and-a-half if the home team is leading). An existing 10-run mercy rule after five innings remains in place.
• The sports medicine committee is recommending the develpoment of a standard set of rules on return-to-play protocols for major injuries, similar to one currently in place for concussions. “We’ve always had standards,” said Associate Director Craig Perry. “This just sets down guidelines for things like blown-out knees or even mononucleosis.”
• A final vote on the implementation of pitch counts for baseball pitchers will take place at the Dec. 1 meeting. The measure, which sets a limit of 105 pitches in a single day, is in line with National Federation of High Schools guidelines and is expected to pass.