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HIGH SCHOOLS

MIAA votes for in-depth audit, look at communication and culture

FRANKLIN — Now more than ever, it appears, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association is determined to promote transparency to its members and critics. No issue or detail is too small to ignore.

In that vein, the MIAA’s Board of Directors convened for three-plus hours in a very full conference room Wednesday afternoon, the start delayed one hour and 15 minutes by a lengthy Finance Committee meeting across the hall.

Yes, MIAA finances — a subject which has generated recent concerns from members — were addressed, along with at least 12 bullet points

. The board voted affirmatively on a number action items, from the Thom Holdgate-led redistricting plan from the state athletic directors’ association (MASSADA) to volleyball rules modifications.

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But the final item, voiced by executive director Bill Gaine, arguably was the most revealing. Taking note of recent challenges and the wave of appeals generated by member schools regarding tourney qualification for the winter season, Gaine reversed a decision by a subcommittee, he said, for the first time in his lengthy career. Case principal Brian McCann applauded the transparency. But the move prompted much discussion.

■  Tournament revenue, according to FinCom chair Jeff Granatino, is $100,000 behind a projected number of $400,000. Giving the recent scrutiny, and Granatino’s recommendation, the board voted 18-0 to request a more in-depth audit look at the association’s financial numbers.

“We want to make it perfectly clear, our practices are efficient, but we can do better. We want no gray areas,” said Granatino, superintendent of schools in Marshfield.

An independent study, noted Westford Academy principal James Antonelli, will carry more weight outside the MIAA.

“We need more tools to reflect the total credibility of this organization,” said Gaine.

■  Addressing the current climate further, the board also voted unanimously to schedule a special committee meeting for Friday, March 22, devoted solely to the communication and culture of the association. President Marilyn Slattery felt strongly that the meeting be held prior to the MIAA’s annual meeting on April 15.

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■  Following up on a vote tabled in January (because of the request for a breakdown of student-athlete participation numbers statewide by district), the board voted 9-7 that it will follow the vote of the general assembly in April on MASSADA’s redistricting plan that will follow the nine congressional districts. But it also voted, 10-8, in favor of a proposal from Lee principal Gregg Brighenti for District G to form a special committee to take a broader, global view at the plan.

District G (the Berkshires) would be eliminated under the new proposal, instead grouped with the Pioneer Valley schools.

■ After a detailed point-by-point presentation from Frontier Regional volleyball coach Sean MacDonald and longtime college/high school official Ted Wilcox, the board approved six rules modifications in the transition to National Federation Rules for 2019. Those include allowing teams to switch sides halfway through the deciding fifth set, giving both assistant coaches and reserves (positioned to the end of the bench area) the authority to stand during matches.

■  Representing the Student Advisory Committee, co-chairs Kinsley Rolph (Hopkinton) and Richard Darkwa (West Springfield) chronicled their community service work, youth inclusion initiative, and their involvement in projects in the past year. The two saluted the impact and life skills learned through their association with the MIAA.


Craig Larson can be reached at craig.larson@globe.com

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