The Hawaii High School Athletic Association football committee met Friday at its office on the Kaimuki High School campus to discuss the format for this fall’s state tournament, but no legislative action took place, according to HHSAA executive director Chris Chun and Oahu Interscholastic Association executive director Ray Fujino.
After wrapping up the discussions with members from across the state, Chun and Fujino both said the committee will meet again next month.
Chun and Fujino also said that the subject matter of the discussions will be reviewed by all five of Hawaii’s leagues — the OIA, Interscholastic League of Honolulu, Big Island Interscholastic, Maui Interscholastic League and Kauai Interscholastic Federation.
In addition, Chun said that the committee members agreed to keep the details of the meeting confidential among themselves. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser requested admission to the meeting, and then honored an HHSAA request to not attend it due to the sensitivity of the issue. We were told that with media in the room, the committee members would be less likely to open up about their true feelings on crucial issues.
It is believed that an alternative state tournament proposal to the one that was passed by the HHSAA executive board earlier this month was discussed. Chun said some amendments were made to that alternative proposal Friday, but that nothing was voted on.
Chun added that the committee’s league representatives will go back to their member schools to get a feel for their pros and cons of the alternative proposal with amendments.
The alternative proposal made by Chun last week calls for a four-team top-tier tournament that includes three teams from the OIA and one from the ILH, a four-team middle tier with one team each from the MIL and ILH and two from the BIIF, and a six-team bottom tier with two teams from the OIA and one each from all four other leagues.
The alternative proposal was drawn up to appease the OIA, which announced earlier this month that it would only declare its 22 teams for Division I and D-II in the three-tiered state tournament that started as a pilot program in 2016 and was voted on to continue this year. Such a move by the OIA would have thrown a wrench into that system.
One high-ranking OIA source admitted last week that the move was designed to kill the three tiers.
It is clear that the OIA wants the formula for determining league representation into the tournament to be used in a strict sense. For instance, the top tier (Open Division) from last year included four teams from the OIA and two from the ILH. That 4-to-2 ratio is not as accurate as the approximate 3-to-1 ratio of the OIA’s 22 total teams to the ILH’s seven. And the HHSAA uses that ratio system to determine league representation in all other sports.
The football committee has the power to make changes to the football state tournament without HHSAA executive board approval as long as it happens before the season starts, thanks to new guidlines passed by the HHSAA last month.
ILH executive director Blane Gaison, ILH assistant executive director Georges Gilbert, Brent Mizutani and Jon Kobayashi of the KIF, Lyle Crozier of the BIIF, and Natalie Iwamoto of the HHSAA were among those present at the meeting.