FRANKLIN — A vote that will dramatically change the landscape of high school athletics in Massachusetts, arguably the most influential in the 41-year history of the MIAA, deserved to have its own stage.
With an affirmative 14-3 vote Wednesday afternoon, the state association’s Board of Directors agreed.
Acting upon a recommendation from the Tournament Management Committee, the Board approved a special assembly of the association’s 380 member schools — scheduled for Feb. 28 — to vote on a statewide tournament proposal.
The site, not finalized, will be at a central location, at 10 a.m.
There was discussion of conducting the vote at the MIAA’s annual meeting, scheduled for April 3, with executive director Bill Gaine offering a “compromise” of a date in March.
But TMC chair Jim O’Leary, along with committee members Johanna DiCarlo and Shaun Hart (Burlington), strongly emphasizing the vote’s importance, endorsed a separate meeting, with a singular focus — much like the special assembly for a state football playoff that was held in 2013.
“This is the biggest vote in the history of the association,” said DiCarlo, the athletic director at Westborough High.
Added Hart, “We had a special vote for football [approved 161-131], this is for every sport.”
Each of the member schools will be represented at the assembly by its superintendent, principal, or athletic director. They will vote on the TMC’s proposal that was recently unveiled after a two-plus year process. If approved, the statewide tournament will be introduced in the fall of 2021.
“We are hoping for a positive outcome, and if there is not a positive outcome, there is more work to be done,” said O’Leary.
Later, he was trying to line up dates with DiCarlo and Hart to continue the information process at regional meetings.
Is the membership adequately informed?
“I think at this point, you agree [with the proposal] or you don’t,” said DiCarlo. “I think most people understand it . . . But we can not put every single detail out there, because we have not [run the tournament yet] . . . But yes, they can make an informed decision.”
Whether the proposal is approved or not, there will be major changes by 2021. MaxPreps will be introduced this fall to power seed the tournaments, and separate from a statewide tournament, new alignments will implemented for 2021-22. The TMC is determined to balance the state, from Boston to the Berkshires.
■ Associate director Peter Smith confirmed that the MIAA is headed back to the DCU Center in Worcester for six of the eight state basketball finals on Saturday, March 14. The other two will be played in the area, either Friday night or Saturday.
The finals were last held at the DCU in 2015, before a three-year run in Springfield. Last year, the finals were held at Holy Cross and WPI.
■ With the MIAA transitioning from eight districts to nine in 2020, the Board voted, unanimously, to add one principal and one AD to its roster, upping the total board count to 22.
■ Lee principal Gregg Brighenti submitted his resignation from the board, citing the lengthy round trip from the Berkshires to Franklin for business meetings.