By David Krueger Herald Writer
YAKIMA — It wasn’t long after Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Executive Director Mike Colbrese finished his opening remarks at Monday’s Associated Press Sports Editors meeting before he was asked about the state basketball tournament, and possibly expanding the number of teams that go to the final tournament from eight to 16.
At the APSE meeting at The Yakima Herald-Republic, Colbrese said that the old model, where 16 boys and girls teams from each 3A and 4A classifications went to Tacoma, was not financially sustainable. According to Colbrese, the state basketball tournament had declining revenue by 33 percent in recent years, prompting the WIAA to make changes.
“At some point we were going to get to the point where we were going to have to raise membership fees and ticket prices,” Colbrese said.
Colbrese, who noted he’s received a “handful of emails” urging the WIAA to go back to its old format which was last in place for the 2010 state tournament, said that the WIAA has cut its “overhead in half” having the regional round of the state tournament at other locations closer to the schools participating.
He added the new model has been “successful” because “more people are seeing regional games. And it’s made for exciting games at Tacoma.”
A pair of state championships went into overtime at the most recent tournament, which also delayed the start of the 4A title game between Jackson and Curtis a bit, with it not ending until after 11 p.m. (which, incidentally, was rough on us reporters on deadline). Colbrese said that options are being considered, such as having the consolation games Saturday played on the adjacent court at the same time as title games.
Other amendments that were discussed at the recent WIAA meeting included one that would update enrollment on a four-year cycle (which failed) and one that allowed schools with separate alternative high schools to remove those students from their enrollment count.
Conor Laffey, the WIAA Sports and Activities Information Director, also discussed an addition to the WIAA website that is set to begin next year. The website hired two employees to update schedules, scores and standings on the website, with the help of school athletic directors.
It continues a recent makeover for the WIAA site.
“We’ve revamped the entire website the last few years,” Laffey said.