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MIAA TOURNAMENT MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE

In the midst of more postponements, MIAA will not extend cutoff date to qualify for state hockey tournament

The Framingham boys' hockey program has paused twice, resulting in four postponed games, because of COVID-related issues. TOPIC: 31BHOCNOTESErin Clark/Globe Staff

In a virtual meeting Thursday morning, the MIAA’s Tournament Management Committee reviewed what was deemed a successful inaugural statewide tournament in fall 2021, and also discussed a number of the challenges for the upcoming winter tournaments.

Notably, the TMC voted, 12-6, not to uphold a recommendation from the MIAA Ice Hockey Committee, raised by Wellesley athletic director John Brown, to extend the cutoff date, from Thursday, Feb. 24 to Sunday, Feb. 27, in order to allow for more games postponed because of COVID to be made up.

“The proposal [the ice hockey committee] had is completely valid,” St. Mary’s athletic director Jeff Newhall said.

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“With COVID, everybody’s in a different boat. Some districts have shut down for a month, some have had no cancellations, some have had numerous cancellations, so to just pinpoint one sport, at this stage in the game, and extend the date, is difficult.”

“[At St. Mary’s] we want to finish the schedule we were given by the time we’re supposed to finish. I understand the reasoning, but extending the [cutoff] date two or three days is not going to create a lot more opportunities.”

Milton boys’ coach Chris Watson, president of the state hockey coaches association, said the decision reflects that the TMC has little understanding for how little and valuable ice time is across the state.

“During this whole pandemic . . . schools, teachers, students, coaches, etc., have been told to remain and be flexible,” Watson said. “Because of COVID a number of schools have shut down athletic teams and programs for lengthy periods of time. Those teams are being expected to complete their full schedules by the cut off of [Feb. 24].”

Teams that have had considerable pauses will be asked to make up a number of games in about a month’s time, some up to four games per week, according to Watson. “This will be detrimental to player health and academic productivity,” he said.

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▪ In reviewing the statewide tournament this past fall, the TMC found that attendance had nearly doubled across nearly all sports, with field hockey (up 87 percent) and girls’ volleyball (up 54 percent) the biggest gainers since the 2019 tournament, according to associate executive director Sherry Bryant. Soccer (up 30 percent) and football (11 percent) also experienced gains.

▪ The TMC voted in favor of a recommendation from the basketball committee to apply the same minimum seating requirements (1,000, not 500) for basketball state tournament games in basketball as are required in hockey state tournament games in the state quarterfinals.

▪ The committee discussed a number of items that will be approached at a later date (likely the scheduled Feb. 3 meeting), including the question of whether state semifinals and finals should continue to be played at college and professional sports venues. The basketball committee recently had a lengthy discussion about keeping some state semifinals at the TD Garden this season, but under the new statewide format, only eight of the 20 eligible teams could play over two days at that venue.

▪ The TMC also addressed concerns from member schools about seedings and pairings being released later than they would like, or at undetermined times. The committee expressed a need to establish more consistency and transparency throughout that process. The seeding meeting for girls’ and boys’ basketball tournaments is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 25.

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▪ The appeals process remains in place for programs that don’t meet the minimum number of games, or the minimum number of victories, required to qualify for the state tournament due to hardships created by the pandemic.