It’s going to be a shrewd political move by the Oahu Interscholastic Association.
OIA executive director Ray Fujino told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Hawaii Prep World on Friday that the OIA’s football teams will all opt for either Division I or II in the state tournament and keep themselves out of the Open Division.
It’s a blockbuster move that will severely cripple — and maybe even end — the Open Division, which was the centerpiece of a new three-tiered tournament that began as a pilot program last year.
Fujino’s comments, ironically, came after a Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association-approved proposal to continue the three-tier tourmament was ratified by the Hawaii High School Athletic Association executive board Friday morning.
Kahuku, which lost to Saint Louis in the Open Division final last year, will now play in Division I, as will other OIA powerhouses such as Waianae and Mililani.
That leaves the Open Division with ILH teams like Saint Louis, Punahou and Kamehameha and any neighbor-island teams who want to join in. With that knowledge, those ILH teams may also choose to play down in Division I to meet the better competition, effictively ending the Open Division.
On Thursday, all 27 OIA voters voted against continuation of the three-tier tournamnet, but the final count was a 63-27 defeat for the state’s largest league.
Technically, the OIA can wait until Sept. 1 to declare which state-tournament divisions it will participate in, but Fujino was clear that the Open is not an option.