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MIAA board of directors seeks additional guidance on mask mandate for fall

The MIAA board of directors' first live meeting since March 2020 Thursday in Franklin was the last for retiring executive director Bill Gaine.The Boston Globe/Boston Globe

FRANKLIN — In its first live session since March 4, 2020, the MIAA Board of Directors introduced six new members, recapped the 2020-21 academic year, said farewell to retiring executive director Bill Gaine, and discussed policy ahead of the upcoming 2021 fall season in a three-plus hour meeting Wednesday.

Notably, the MIAA’s Sports Medicine Committee, which met recently to discuss mask mandates for the fall, did not make a recommendation to the board.

According to MIAA associate executive director Richard Pearson, the SMC will look for guidance from state and local officials to determine masking requirements for interscholastic competitions.

Cambridge athletic director Tom Arria proposed a motion to require masks for indoor competitions through the fall, but it was voted down.


▪ After a lengthy discussion, the board decided to eliminate volleyball Rule 83.5 — which states that a boy playing on a girls’ volleyball team (if the school doesn’t field a boys’ program) cannot play the ball in front of the 10-foot line, or participate in an attempted block. The board voted to address the topic in December after the Blue Ribbon Committee and Volleyball Committee coordinate with legal counsel to craft a new proposal regarding the rule.

▪ In light of the NCAA decision to allow student-athletes to profit off their name, image, and likeness, the board addressed the potential for MIAA athletes to follow suit. While amateur athletes may engage in activities consistent with state law, the board cited Rule 47 as the definition of amateurism, warning that any compensation related to a student’s participation with high school athletics would result in the loss of amateur status.

▪ The board welcomed six new members: Holliston principal Nicole Bottomley, New Bedford superintendent Thomas Anderson, Sandwich superintendent Pam Gould, Quaboag athletic director Dave Bouchard, Hingham AD Jim Quatromoni, and Ellen Holmes of the Ashburnham and Westminster school committee.


▪ Malden High principal Stephanie Sibley was introduced as the board’s next vice president. Thom Holdgate was in line for the position until his position as athletic director at Duxbury High was not renewed in June.

▪ The board voted to approve a recommendation from the Tournament Management Committee for league, district, or regional championship games to be exempt from regular-season game limits as long as the games occur prior to the established cutoff date, and an exemption request is submitted to the association.

▪ During a recap of the unprecedented 2020-21 school year because of the pandemic, president Lindsey von Holtz said the MIAA received a $350,000 grant via the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to help fund postseason events, including track meets and golf tournaments. Gaine provided a further summary of the spring 2021 state tournaments, which featured 22,346 student-athletes, 1,314 teams, 983 events at host sites, and 11 events for track and golf.

▪ A motion to formally admit Boston Prep Charter School and Berkshire Waldorf High School as MIAA member schools passed.

▪ It was the final meeting for Gaine, who will be replaced by Fairhaven superintendent Robert Baldwin effective Monday. At the outset, Gaine expressed pride regarding the association’s growth since its inception in 1979.

Gaine, the longest-tenured high school executive of the nation’s 51 state associations, was one of four original staff MIAA members. He developed the association’s Student Services Program and founded the MIAA’s Partners in Prevention, a network of more than 65 agencies in Massachusetts that assist schools with prevention and healthy lifestyle resources for students.


He stepped away from his post as MIAA deputy executive director in June 2012, but returned the following July as executive director to replace the retiring Dick Neal.