CHSAA tightens co-op sports teams rules

AURORA — Schools that want to establish cooperative teams – sports available at one school but not at another – will have to follow tighter rules.

The Colorado School High School Athletics and Activities Association’s legislative council made that decision during its April 20 meeting at the Radisson Hotel Southeast.

One of the changes is the decision to join a co-op team belongs to the student and his/her parents, not the school sending the student. According to the council agenda packet, “small-school athletics face enough challenges without schools using the law to gain a competitive advantage by dictation where students play sports and providing financial and transportation support for that student.”

The bylaw makes informal agreements between schools about which one offers what program illegal. Schools cannot provide transportation to and from that school, and it does not allow the receiving school to get any funds, equipment, facilities for the incoming athlete.

“Most of the time, we can make agreements to get kids to the other schools,” said Tom Turrell, superintendent of schools for the Byers School District. “To deny that creates a hardship.”

Bethune School District Superintendent Shila Adolf said the proposal stretched too far into local control.

“And it’s a safety issue,” she said. “I would rather put my kids on a bus and get them there safely. We are a low-numbered school. The amendment goes beyond its purpose and intent. I suggest you bring a proposal back without impacting so many students in rural areas.”

By parliamentary rule, outgoing commissioner Paul Angelico said the council could not make changes to the proposal.

“If you trust things, pass this, come back in January (the next council meeting) and edit this out,” he said. “We’re just responding to needs I continue to hear about.”

The bylaw passed by a margin of 2-to-1.

The San Luis Valley has some co-op schools in sports, more importantly Alamosa’s state champion cross country teams draw from Sanford, Alamosa’s gymnastics teams draw from the entire Valley, Del Norte’s soccer team and several players travel to several different teams for baseball.

CHSAA approves mercy rule for basketball

AURORA — The Colorado High School Activities Association’s legislative council approved a mercy rule for all levels of prep basketball April 20 and didn’t approve a change in RPI balance for basketball teams.

The chairman of the state’s basketball committee, Sean O’Donnell of Pagosa Springs High School, said the mercy-rule proposal served two purposes. One was increased safety in one-sided games. The other was to deter coaches who can’t keep scores “from being outrageous.”

J. Ryan Casey, manager of digital content for CHSAA, said as of early February, 17 percent of girls games and 13 percent of boys games ended with margins of 35 points or more.

Jesus Merjill, who played at Westminster High School until 2011, agreed with the proposal to a point.

“It should not apply to all levels except varsity,” he said. “With a varsity team, you are dealing with young adults who need to learn as much about losing as about winning. It builds character.”

Westminster played Grandview while he was in school. Grandview won by 60 points.

“We didn’t feel humiliated,” he said. “We wanted to get better. We keep handing out participation trophies, and kids feel entitled when they haven’t accomplished anything significant.”

Dave Hogan, president of the Colorado Springs Metro League 4A Activities Association, agreed with the mercy-rule proposal. But he suggested the state adopt what his association does.

“In sub-varsity levels, we can start playing it (mercy rules) in the first quarter, if that’s when it starts,” he said. “It’s better for us to keep our own mercy rule.”

The council also denied a change in the percentages used in the Ratings Performance Index, which determines state playoff teams, for class 3A basketball teams. The majority of the council – 52 percent – approved, but the proposal needed a 2/3 approval of the 71 votes to pass.

The suggestion was to change the weights to 25 percent of a team’s winning percentage, 30 percent of the team’s opponents’ winning percentage and 30 percent of the opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage. Andy Schissler of Clear Creek High School wanted to keep the existing percentages (25-50-25).

“Twenty-five, 30-25 is not the best. It creates a system of haves and have nots,” he said.

Bennett basketball coach Kevin McMillan said it’s tough for bigger schools to find non-conference games.

“In many of the lower-level classifications, one or two kids can change the season,” he said. “There should be more emphasis on what you do vs. what your opponent does.”

“We didn’t think we could discuss RPI without a full season. We wanted to wait and look at it next year,” O’Donnell said.

Outgoing commissioner Paul Angelico urged the council not to change the format in the middle of a two-year cycle.

“There’s no proven reason,” he said. “If you go through with this, why wouldn’t every other sport do this?”

“That’s the problem,” Schissler said. “It’s not consistent. It’s a matter of time before the football situation (in which two teams with 9-1 records were left out of the state playoffs in favor of two, 3-7 teams) comes up in other sports.”

In other business

In what many considered a surprise, a proposal to sanction boys volleyball died without a discussion.

The 72-member legislative council could not get a majority to open discussion. Only 46 percent of the members agreed to begin talking about the idea.

After an initial vote, Angelico called for an electronic vote.

The proposal can come back to the council in January. It’s not clear if that will happen.