Get used to the word “declarations.” It promises to come up often soon.
Declarations will be a hot topic when the Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association convention begins next week at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. The group of athletic directors meets each year to consider implementing changes to high school sports rules.
But what does “declarations” mean? Simply put, it’s when a league declares what division its schools will be playing in at the state tournaments.
There are two proposals on the agenda at HIADA concerning declarations. One, submitted by the Hawaii High School Athletic Association, would make it a requirement in football for all leagues to declare for one of the three state tournament tiers — Open, Division I and D-II — by a set date in June.
Last year, the pilot program of the three-tiered (instead of two) state football tournament debuted, and one league — the Oahu Interscholastic Association — declared some of its teams to a particular state tournament division much later than June — during its playoffs in October.
The item is expected to pass. Last year, the pilot program came out hastily and there were still some kinks to be ironed out. The OIA was (and still is) set up for two divisions, so it decided to let the question of where OIA teams fit at states to be determined on the field. That made it difficult for teams from the state’s other leagues to prepare for the future. As an example, non-OIA D-I teams had a legitimate worry about having to face a perennial power such as Kahuku if the Red Raiders happened to get upset in the OIA playoffs. That scenario — Kahuku in D-I instead of Open — would have been disastrous for too many reasons to count.
If the item passes, the real interest begins. Lots of people want to know how the OIA is going to declare its teams. Kahuku, Mililani, Farrington, Campbell, Waianae and Kapolei appear to many to belong in the Open, but some of those teams may have a legitimate case for the lower-tiered D-I.
There is no cut and dried formula for the state’s leagues –the OIA, ILH, KIF, BIIF and MIL — to go by. It’s up to the each league to decide, and they all have different ways of choosing.
It almost leads one to think that one of these years there will be a HHSAA proposal at HIADA that calls for a uniform formula for all the leagues to go by in determining which schools go where. But there has never been such a proposal since 2003, the first year Division II was added as a second tier.
The other “declarations” proposal that will surface at HIADA was introduced by the BIIF. It calls for declarations for all sports to be made one week after the start date of that particular sport. So, for football, that would mean the declarations deadline would be July 31, which is one week after the July 24 start date.
In another football proposal, the HIADA voting body (made up of the athletic directors of all Hawaii High School Athletic Association schools) will look at making the Division I portion of the state tournament a six-team event instead of eight. That proposal is likely to pass because it comes recommended by the HHSAA football committee, which was tasked throughout the year to look at the positives and negatives of the inaugural three-tiered state tournament pilot program. The Open and D-II portions of the tournament are already six-team events.
The HHSAA football committee considered recommending changes to the seeding system and revenue distribution, but, through a vote of its members, voted to recommend keeping it the same and did not submit a proposal on those items to HIADA.