For at least one more season, the state high school basketball tournament will remain the same.
That was the decision of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s Executive Board, which met virtually Sunday from across the state.
The WIAA published a survey last month seeking opinion on three options to revamp the six state tournaments, which have seen attendance dwindle for decades. With rent at the bigger venues in Washington rising, the WIAA said it was forced to make tough decisions to keep a major source of revenue alive.
WIAA Executive Director Mick Hoffman said with no guarantee of a season because of possible complications from the coronavirus pandemic, the Executive Board will continue to study the issue.
Making the decision easier was the fact that the WIAA is heading into its final year of agreements with the Tacoma Dome (Class 4A/3A tournaments), Yakima Valley SunDome (2A/1A) and Spokane Arena (2B/1B) to hold the tournaments. Many of the dates needed for the new format wouldn’t be available in 2021, said Hoffman, who pointed out lingering impacts of the pandemic could force a few alterations to the tournaments.
Of the three proposals in the survey, the most popular was the one that saw the bulk of the tournaments held at the SunDome, with each team playing two games and the top four in each classification advancing to the semifinals the next week. The other two versions relied more on regional tournaments at high schools and small colleges to pare down the field.
Hoffman said the Yakima proposal was so popular because 69% of the respondents were coaches.
“If I were coaches I’d vote for it, right?” Hoffman said. “Because you’re giving me two games guaranteed rather than one, and it’s in a big venue.”
Hoffman said the WIAA would continue to seek feedback on the proposals.
As for the other major portion on the Executive Board’s plate — if, how and when high school sports will return in the fall — no decisions have been made there either.
The WIAA is expecting guidance on the reopening of schools (which also will cover sports) from the governor’s office sometime this week. That will help the board make decisions over the next month on what fall sports will look like.
Hoffman said the Board’s plan for the moment is to be flexible as it tries to hit not only a “moving target but a fast-moving target.”