By BILL O’REAR
Tribune-Herald sports editor
The Big Island Interscholastic Federation will host state tournament regionals in girls basketball and boys volleyball during the 2013-14 seasons.
The Hawaii High School Athletic Association’s executive board approved the two-sport pilot program during a meeting June 10 on Oahu. The proposal was passed by the state athletic directors during their annual meeting a day earlier at the Ala Moana Hotel.
Under the plan proposed by HHSAA executive director Chris Chun, the girls basketball and boys volleyball champion in each league would host a three-team regional in a Friday/Saturday schedule heading into the state tournament’s Final Four. The league champion draws an opening-night bye and plays Friday’s winner on Saturday for the berth in the Final Four — with the semifinals and final being held on Oahu. There would be no consolation play.
Chun told the media that the same seedings and pairing for the state tournaments will be used to determine the regional brackets. And if two Oahu teams were placed in a Neighbor Island regional, they would play a game on Oahu on Thursday, thus allowing them a travel day to the regional host site. Thursday’s winner would then battle the Neighbor Island champion on Saturday for the berth in the Final Four.
That format would be used for both girls basketball and boys volleyball. Findings from those tournaments would be presented during the state AD’s 2014 annual meeting and it could then be determined if more sports should be added.
BIIF exectuive secretary Lyle Crozier said the BIIF currently makes $10,000 to $15,000 for boys basketball and $5,000 to $10,000 for girls basketball when those league tournaments are held on Fridays and Saturdays at Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium.
Under the HHSAA pilot program, the state would keep regional gate receipts while the BIIF would keep concession monies.
“I think this is a start and hopefully we can do it in other sports in the future,” Crozier said. “It gives our fans a chance to watch state-caliber tournaments, and it gives our schools a chance to make money with the concession as well as cut down on travel costs.”
Crozier said a BIIF school would be selected as the host of the state tournament and be allowed to pocket the money raised in the concession during the event.
“The BIIF schools will be placed in a rotation system and each get a chance at some point to host the state tournament,” Crozier said. “It’s a good situation for the BIIF.”
The HHSAA executive board also approved a proposal to allow the BIIF and Kauai Interscholastic Federation to be added to the rotation for the state Division II baseball tournament. Currently, it’s only played on Oahu at Hans L’Orange Field.
With the BIIF being added to the rotation, it means it will host the state tournament once every six years — the first time in 2016. In D-I baseball, the Maui Interscholastic League is the only Neighbor Island league already in the state rotation, joining the Interscholastic League of Honolulu and the Oahu Interscholastic Association in the three-league format.
“We’re really happy with the state Division II baseball tournament coming to the Big Island,” Crozier said. “Now our players can stay home and showcase their talents before their parents, who won’t have to travel to see them play.
“The BIIF has been very competitive in the state Division II baseball tournament and we look forward to hosting it in 2016.”
Heading into the state ADs meeting, some BIIF officials and coaches discussed establishing a stricter pitch count for high school baseball pitchers to reduce the stress on the youngsters’ arms and limit injuries. However, the BIIF did not officially bring up the matter before the state assembly and plans on working together with the other leagues to eventually come up with a plan to address those safety concerns.
“The league executive directors talked about the pitch count and some safety concerns with baseball,” Crozier said. “The next step is for the athletic directors to talk about it and maybe do something in the future. But there’s definitely a safety concern with this issue.”