While beginning to put the finishing touches on the 2019-20 school year, the MIAA’s Board of Directors took a step Wednesday to deal with the uncertainty that Massachusetts high school athletics could face going forward.
Anticipating questions and concerns entering the fall as a result of the current pandemic, executive director Bill Gaine recommended the appointment of an MIAA COVID-19 task force.
President Jeff Granatino, superintendent of Marshfield schools,will lead the creation of the task force over the next two weeks, with hopes it will include representatives from various committees across the MIAA. The task force would return to the next board meeting — scheduled for July 21 — with any discussion, questions or concerns regarding the fall 2020 season and beyond.
Granatino previously had been appointed to Governor Charlie Baker’s Outdoor Recreation Advisory Task Force. Gaine and deputy director Richard Pearson also are serving on advisory groups as the state deals with the pandemic.
The Board of Directors also passed three temporary rule amendments and addressed several other items during its two-hour-plus virtual meeting, the last scheduled before the fiscal year ends June 30:
▪ Presenting a report on behalf of the Finance/Personnel Committee, vice president Lindsey von Holtz noted that the FY21 budget had been approved with a 6.28 percent decrease from a year ago. The budget, added the Mount Greylock AD, has been decreased by a combined 11 percent over the last two years.
Despite the budget decreases, she said “the mission of the MIAA is still intact.”
“There is the realization that we have to be adaptive and flexible coming up,” von Holtz said, noting most school districts will be dealing with financial uncertainty going forward.
▪ The board unanimously approved three temporary rule changes to the MIAA Handbook, including two that address one-year suspensions. For Rule 49, which includes a one-year suspension for a second disqualification in a season for an athlete or coach, the board agreed the spring season will count as time served even though no competition took place. On Rule 62, the board agreed to waive any outstanding suspensions for chemical health violations, granting affected students eligibility beginning in the fall.
Rule 58.1, which sets standard minimum eligibility requirements, was also temporarily waived. Recognizing the challenges schools and students are facing with the adjustment to remote learning, the waiver allows individual schools and districts to set their own minimum eligibility requirements through the first marking period of the 2020-21 school year.
No action was taken on a pair of subcommittee recommendations regarding physical examinations and participation timelines entering Grade 9, since they would require no change to current MIAA rules.
▪ A proposal by the Game Officials’ Committee for a recommended 3 percent increase in regular-season officiating fees across the board through the 2021-22 school year also gained unanimous approval.
▪ The board approved the ratification of standing committees (not including sports committees or game officials), at-large appointments, and coaches and officials representatives, business normally handled at the MIAA annual meeting that was canceled in April.
▪ Gaine opened the meeting by asking for a moment of silence for Mary Pratt, a women’s sports pioneer who died last week at age 101. Pratt, who was the last surviving member of the Rockford Peaches of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, also coached and taught physical education in her hometown of Quincy for four decades. She is a member of the National High School Hall of Fame.
▪ Seniors Tori Schille (Tewksbury) and Ryan McCallum (Bridgewater-Raynham) were named Student-Athletes of the Year, and each will be recipients of a $1,500 Agganis Scholarship.
▪ Uxbridge principal Michael Rubin was announced as the Massachusetts School Administrators Association Principal of the Year, and Gordie McClay of Archbishop Williams was named the recipient of 2020 John E. Young Award as athletic director of the year. MIAA Distinguished Service Award winners include Kevin Maines (Douglas superintendent), Robert Keuther (Marshfield principal), and Carolyn O’Donnell (longtime golf committee member).
▪ The board also recognized a pair of retiring members, athletic directors Naomi Martin (Lexington) and Tim Brillo (Ludlow). With an MIAA-wide reorganization under its new nine-district alignment, new board members beginning July 1 will include principals Mike Shultz (Carver) and Brian Callaghan (Westborough), as well as athletic directors Charlie Conefrey (Malden), Pete Rittenburg (Brookline) and Mark Miville (Quabbin).
▪ Granatino suggested to the board the future addition of another superintendent, which Gaine noted would require a constitutional change and likely vote from the full membership. Granatino and Gordon Smith (East Longmeadow) are the only superintendents on the current board.