63rd annual HIADA conference concludes with some changes coming to basketball

KEAUHOU, Hawaii — On the final day of the 63rd annual Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association Conference at the Outrigger Keauhou Resort and Spa, athletic administrators from across the state approved 19 proposed measures and were approved by the HHSAA Executive Board Thursday.

Two of the measures that passed related to basketball. The first saw the removal of the five-second closely guarded rule while dribbling and the second granted the use of a probability model to seed league champions in the Division II boys basketball state tournament.

Because the HHSAA uses a 35-second shot clock after HIADA approval in 2022, the National Federal State High School Associations (NFHS) allows state associations to modify the closely guarded rule.

The new closely guarded rule is still in effect when players pick up their dribble and hold the ball, but players can dribble with the ball now even if a defender is within 6 feet of them without the five-second count going into effect.

The proposal was passed with 81 out of the 95 voting ADs voting in favor of the new rule. Former Kalaheo standout and former Radford girls basketball coach Brandy Richardson — now serving as one of the ADs at Kamehameha — was one that spoke up in favor of the measure during Thursday's general assembly.

"I think the ultimate benefit with taking away the closely guarded while dribbling rule is it's putting the game back in the players' hands," Richardson said.

Richardson, who also spent time as a basketball official on the prep and collegiate level after her coaching days, noted that it takes one less thing off the referees' plate of things to watch for during the game.

"This rule takes away the subjectivity that an official has. By rule 6 feet while dribbling is considered closely guarded, and then on top of that, to break the plane or get your head and shoulders pass (a defender) while dribbling, every official might call that differently.

"One of the reasons people on the other side would say we should keep the rule because it takes away from defensive strategy, but we do have the shot clock at 35 seconds so that's why the NFHS was able to allow us to make a decision."

Richardson added that the dribbling aspect of the closely guarded rule does not exist on the professional and collegiate level.

"Whether you're playing D1, D2 or D3, while dribbling the ball there is no closely guarded rule. My aspiration as an athletic director and even as a coach was to get our kids to play at the next level no matter what level it is so the transition to play at that level is a little more seamless."

Rather than having a seeding committee determine, the probability model that will now determine the seeding of league champions in Division II basketball is known as the Bradley-Terry model. The ILH-submitted proposal passed out of HIADA after getting amended by a vote of 63-32.

The BTM determines the strength of a team based on the results of each team's wins and losses, who their opponents were and the location of the games. It will take into account games that took place during league play and games in non-league play between in-state teams. Scrimmages and games against out-of-state teams do not factor in.

The language of the amended proposal also states: "all boys basketball schools regardless of division will need to input their results throughout the season to properly rank the Division II schools via the model."

The HHSAA will use ScoringLive as the source that all teams need to report their scores toward.

D2 boys basketball was chosen to use the BTM because it is an eight-team field that does not have a regional format, meaning that all games take place on one singular island with no travel needed in between the tournament, an ILH AD told ScoringLive after a close-door breakout group session on Wednesday. Boys basketball also had enough past data reported that could be used to test the model.

League athletic director usually vote together as a group and as a whole it was all 32 member schools from the OIA that voted against the measure. Pearl City athletic director Reid Shigemasa was one that spoke up from the OIA during the open discussion during Thursday's general assembly. ScoringLive was able to speak with Shigemasa after the conference concluded.

"For me personally, not the league, it would have been for us just a lot easier to make it more of a pilot (program) for two years or to try it (and show the results of the model) for the last maybe four years in the past to show us the difference compared to just jumping in because it's something brand new because we're actually using a scientific formula to determine the top four, top five league champions. Rather than before it was very debatable, it was a lot of discussion. Now it's not going to have that discussion because we're using a formula to determine the top four or five."

Shigemasa also cautioned what the use of the BTM could lead to for other state tournament and sports down the line.

"We don't know what's going to happen in the future, and that becomes an issue because a lot of things can be debatable and that's where that discussion of one through four, one through five was really important, but that's taking all that discussion and other unknowns that maybe leagues can bring up about ranking."

There 40 total proposed measures when the conference began on Tuesday with 16 of them getting shot down in the four different group meetings that took place behind closed-doors on Tuesday and Wednesday. Out of the 24 proposals brought to the general assembly four on Thursday, all but one were either passed or withdrawn.

The lone measure that did not pass on the third day of the conference was an ILH-submitted proposal relating to cross country berths.

The amended proposal started that: "if an HHSAA member league cannot fill their total allotment of state berths at the HHSAA Boys and Girls Cross Country Division I and Division II championships, state berths that will not be used shall then be made available to the host league. This rule shall only be in effect for cross country because all leagues are in the rotation. If a league drops out of rotation this rule will not be in effect."

It was defeated in Thursday's general assembly by a vote of 39 to 56, with the 32 OIA and 24 BIIF ADs voting against the measure.

The open discussion before the vote was one of the more chattier discussions as at least four different people spoke up. Currently each of the five leagues gets 40 berths in boys and girls cross country to fill up the maximum 200 total runners allowed in each race. Each league can bring a number of alternates, which would be the 41st-placed finisher and on in their respective leagues. The proposal that did not pass was seeking to fill any spots that might be open with a harrier from the host league of that tournament because all leagues and islands are on a rotation to host.

"It's fairly common for cross country when we allot for 200 boys and 200 girls in each championship race, sometimes kids get hurt or they get sick and they're unable to run the race the day of the meet," said outgoing Mid-Pacific AD and future Punahou AD Scott Wagner, who coordinates cross country for the league.

"What we're trying to do is allow for additional kids from the host league, whichever league is hosting, to take any spots that are unfortunately not used by schools who can't use their allotment the day of the race."

Wagner noted that less than the maximum 200 harriers raced in the previous state cross country meet.

"I think we had a race of 197 and 198 so we thought we're missing out on five kids having a chance to race in the state championship," he said.

Shigemasa said the measure wasn't clear enough on which runners from the host leagues would take the spots if it was open.

"It wasn't specific enough. We weren't using a criteria so they're saying it could be anybody available at that time," said Shigemasa. "As a league, (the runners) are ranked, but nobody indicated that we are using that ranking system. It could be anybody that's just available from a certain league. We just wanted them to be more specific about that."

There were nine total measures that passed with a unanimous vote from all 95 voting athletic directors.

Those proposals saw changes in the canoe paddling format, which incorporates best times into the championship final progression from the semifinals. Another unanimously agreed upon proposal allowed for the seeding of No. 9 to No. 20 in wrestling brackets after the top eight seeds are seeded.

Also a measure related to Track and Field passed with all the votes in an amended proposal that reads: "There will be a minimum of 10 minute warm up for both the girls 100-meter high hurdles and boys 110-meter high hurdle before the first call of the girls 100-meter high hurdles."

A pair of proposals also passed unanimously that would keep the Division II baseball and softball tournaments on Oahu for the 2025 state tournament. Kauai will host the Division II baseball in 2026 before returning to Oahu for two straight years and then go to Hawaii Island in 2029. Maui will host Division II softball in 2026 to restart the hosting rotation.

Reach Michael Lasquero at [email protected].

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