MPSSAA subcommittee delays proposal to double playoff field


April 27, 2002|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

With an eye on the future, a subcommittee of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association withdrew a proposal yesterday that would expand the high school football playoff format.

With state officials balking at the plan because of growing financial and logistical concerns, the MPSSAA's football committee intends on reintroducing a revised measure in December that, if it wins approval, could go into effect for the fall of 2003.

The proposal that was withdrawn yesterday at the semi-annual meeting of the MPSSAA's Board of Control in Ocean City calls for a nine-game regular-season schedule for teams that qualify for the single-elimination playoffs, which would be expanded from 32 teams (eight per classification) to 64. Non-playoff teams would be assigned a 10th game.

The football committee followed the lead of the MPSSAA's executive council, which passed a resolution in February urging that the plan be reconsidered because "it would be soundly defeated in its present form," said MPSSAA executive secretary Ned Sparks.

Paul Gardner, a lawyer representing the Maryland High School Football Coaches' Association, said in a news release that the current playoff format discriminates against football players. The MHSFCA adopted the original proposal to revise the football playoff format.

All team sports affiliated with the MPSSAA, with the exception of football, have an open playoff format, which allows all teams to compete in the postseason.

In football, each of four regional champions receives an automatic bid to the state tournament, with the remaining four teams chosen at-large.

"This creates a class of individuals who are treated differently than all other student-athletes," Gardner said in the statement. "You have to treat everyone equal in every situation."

Gardner wants the football committee's proposal to be considered before December, and plans legal action otherwise.

Sparks said that the MHSFCA needs to build a greater consensus of support from athletic directors, principals, superintendents and county supervisors for the proposal to pass.

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