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FRANKLIN — Before all 380 MIAA member schools vote on a statewide tournament proposal Feb. 28 in Marlborough, the association’s Tournament Management Committee is determined to make it explicitly clear what a “yes” or “no” vote means.

The TMC met Tuesday morning for the final time before the vote, providing updates on the ongoing education of voters on the two options for state tournament formats and alignment beginning in 2021.

According to committee members, support for a statewide tournament increased dramatically once voters understood the alternative.

If the members vote no Feb. 28 at Assabet Valley Regional Tech, the TMC still will have to “balance the state” into equal divisions, moving many EMass schools to the Central bracket and many Central schools to the West bracket.

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In other words, as noted by Bridgewater-Raynham athletic director Dan Buron, it’s up to voters whether they want to divide the state horizontally (statewide) or vertically along four sections that are equal numerically but not geographically.

In addition, Burlington AD Shaun Hart pointed out that under equal and balanced alignment, any time one school appeals to move up or down a division, another school will be forced to change divisions to maintain the balance, with no recourse to appeal.

“People are starting to see that equal and balanced, as nice as it sounds, is going to cause a ripple effect that no one has ever seen,” Hart said. “The other piece is that since there are far fewer teams out west, when you balance the state, everyone is pushed west.”

Another concept misguiding some voters is the move to use MaxPreps for seeding all tournaments beginning in 2021. Qualifying criteria would change in the event of a yes vote, with the top 32 teams qualifying based on those power ratings, but even under the current qualifying system, MaxPreps still will be used for seeding.

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“MaxPreps is a done deal,” TMC chair Jim O’Leary said. “Alignment is a done deal. How it’s implemented is the difference, and it works much better in a statewide format than a sectional.

“We’re trying to take care of people’s confusion. We’re seeing people swinging when they have more information and understand that on a pure basis, [statewide] works really well for our state.”

The TMC did discuss a sticking point with MaxPreps that it would have the power to alter. Multiple representatives expressed concern that including point differential in the power seedings could be a detriment to sportsmanship. The committee seemed divided on the subject, and decided to postpone a vote on that modification until May.

Finally, the TMC voted 11-2 to leave in place a policy requiring all cooperative programs to move up a division under the new alignment.

Educational meetings were held Monday night at Algonquin, Bridgewater-Raynham, and Woburn, and three more will be held Feb. 24, two at MIAA headquarters (33 Forge Parkway, Franklin) at 4 and 6 p.m., and another at Chicopee Comp (6 p.m.).


Nate Weitzer can be reached at nathaniel.weitzer@globe.com.