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MIAA SPORT COMMITTEES

MIAA’s proposed ‘competitive equity tool’ to determine sport alignments draws criticism

FRANKLIN — The introduction of a new data point to formulate divisional sport alignments did not sit well with a few members of the MIAA’s hockey committee Wednesday morning.

A few were taken aback by the ‘competitive equity tool’, developed by the tournament management committee to help adjust alignments in any sport — not just boys’ or girls’ ice hockey. The tool will help calculate equitable enrollment numbers.

An email outlining CET was sent to membership on June 24, nearly a week after the conclusion of spring tournaments. Several committee members, however, stated that they were seeing the graphic for the first time Wednesday morning when discussing ice hockey alignments for the 2023-25 cycle.

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“We’re changing how we look at numbers,” Lowell athletic director Dave Lezinski said.

“This is a major change. Communication has to be better, and it has to be better coming from TMC. Making decisions in a closet or in a dark room is not going to be tolerated anymore.”

The CET considers “high needs”, such as student IEP needs and poverty level within the community, to give a more accurate snapshot of a school’s enrollment.

The state average in Massachusetts for “high needs” is 55.6 percent, according to the MIAA. Any school above the state’s average will then have their original enrollment decreased according to a sliding scale. At last week’s TMC meeting, however, a few committee members noted their numbers were not accurate because data was not filed/collected during the pandemic.

Needham girls’ coach Allisyn Furano-Foster worried that the CET would undo years of work in the girls’ hockey circuit on leveling discrepancies between their two divisions.

“When you look at the co-op situation specifically, it’s been so fluid,” Furano-Foster said. “The ice hockey committee is always looking for uniformity; I think we had the uniformity in terms of Division 1 and 2 with multiple criteria. But to use one criteria, what ends up happening is that it will completely change the alignments.”

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Wellesley AD John Brown, who is a member of both the TMC and hockey committees, said it is “our job to make sure it’s equitable across the board.”

Other noteworthy items . . .

▪ A new rule will go into effect for the upcoming season based on “interference with the game,” a direct response to an incident last winter in which a rogue whistle from a spectator led to on-ice confusion. Going forward, if an errant whistle is blown, or if there is other fan interference, the official shall blow the whistle and stop the play and the puck shall be faced off at the nearest faceoff spot in the zone where play is stopped.”

▪ Dan Shine, who has stepped down as boys’ hockey coach at Arlington Catholic after 43 seasons, was unanimously reelected as chair of the committee. Shine (575 career wins) has returned as athletic director at AC.

▪ No action was taken regarding the Division 1A tournament, which went on hiatus for a “review period” following a recommendation by the Blue Ribbon Committee in 2021. The committee had cited equity and Title IX compliance among its reasons for pausing the boys’ hockey and baseball Division 1A/Super 8, tournaments. However, Framingham AD Paul Spear said that the spirit of Title IX was expansion, not contraction.

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“The TMC should be looking at the expansion of 1A tournaments, whether that’s for girls’ hockey or softball or other sports,” Spear said. “I don’t know many people in this room who are opposed to the 1A tournament in ice hockey. I think we all think it was a great tournament and I think the majority of us would like to see it come back. I’m afraid that if we don’t get to talk to the TMC and there’s no sense of urgency, it’s just going to wither on the vine, go away.”

▪ A motion to establish a running clock in the third period if a team is ahead by seven-plus goals passed unanimously.

▪ Across the hall, Hingham AD Jim Quatromoni was elected chair of the cross-country/track & field committee. He replaces Pete Rittenberg, who retired as the athletic director at Brookline.

Lacrosse committee

▪ In a virtual meeting of the boys’ and girls’ lacrosse committees, members reviewed the first statewide tournament last spring and praised the work of tournament director Dan Brothers.

▪ Mount Greylock athletic director Lindsay Von Holtz was re-elected committee chair and Belmont assistant principal Dan O’Brien was elected vice chair.

▪ The committee discussed a number of slight rule changes put in place by the national federation. Key for athletic directors will be the requirement that all end lines and sidelines meet without breaks, and that the midfield line extends through the middle of a field through the school logo if necessary.

▪ Slight rule changes from NFHS are going to be implemented to make the girls’ high school game more closely aligned with collegiate lacrosse. In the boys’ game, a rule has changed to remove protections for the goalie when he leaves the crease with the ball. Conversations on defining that rule are going to continue through the next NFHS meeting in February, per rules interpreter James Carbonneau.

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Nate Weitzer contributed to this story.