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Coaches condemn schedule change

Girls basketball start moved back

– The IHSAA’s decision to move the girls basketball schedule back a week has produced a ripple effect of complaints, mainly from smaller schools and girls basketball coaches around the state who see the move as the first step in possibly forcing multisport athletes to choose one sport – in particular volleyball or girls basketball.

Starting in 2015-16, practice for the girls basketball season would begin the same week as volleyball sectionals.

“I have not heard from any big-school coaches, but this is really a small-school issue because those schools have limited number of athletes, and they share those kids,” IHSAA Commissioner Bobby Cox said Wednesday. “Anytime you make a change, there is going to be some kind of issue on one side or the other. Our board and our staff looked at this whole issue.”

The move by the IHSAA at its board of directors meeting May 6 created a flurry of emails between coaches and the IHSAA, many of which were forwarded to the state’s media members. In them, coaches voiced displeasure about the new schedule.

“I don’t view it as a good thing,” Homestead girls basketball coach Rod Parker said. “Part of the reason I say that is, unfortunately, with the way the culture has changed with high school sports a lot more kids are specializing and choosing one sport over another. Whenever you force two competing sports to overlap, I just think it is going to put a handful of more kids in a position where they are probably going to choose.”

The IHSAA moved the girls basketball schedule back so the girls basketball state finals would no longer conflict with the boys basketball sectional finals, which put the girls at a major disadvantage, Cox said.

The girls state finals will return to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis next year after a five-year absence, and Cox said it could be at the Pacers’ home facility for the following five years or even alternate with the renovated State Fairgrounds arena in Indianapolis because of the move to the earlier date.

“Our main consideration was to try to get girls basketball state championships off the boys sectional weekend,” Cox said. “The media is going to focus on the boys tournament, and it is not fair to the girls to be traveling all over the state to find a venue. We have to do something to bring back the energy and enthusiasm to girls basketball.”

Cox said with half the volleyball teams around the state being eliminated on the first night of the volleyball sectional, many girls would have the opportunity later in that week to still get in the necessary five practices needed to compete in girls basketball.

“I think schools will adjust to that fact should everything remain the same,” Cox said.

Although there have been no desire from volleyball coaches to tinker with their season, Cox said he anticipates that changing.

“I fully anticipate there will be a proposal from a member principal calling for the shortening of the volleyball season by one week,” Cox said. “That would allow girls basketball practice to begin with the same overlap we currently have.”