Football playoff expansion expected to be approved

MPSSAA Board of Control

April 24, 2003|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

The state public school association's Board of Control is expected to approve tomorrow an expansion plan for the football playoffs that would raise from 32 to 64 the number of teams eligible for the postseason, feature a region championship and add a week at the end of a 14-game season, according to several voting members.

"I think this proposal will pass, and I think it'll be the best thing that's happened to football since the inception of the MPSSAA [1946]," said Don Disney, Howard County's coordinator of athletics.

"Since football is the only sport in Maryland without an open-tournament format, it's deserving of this," Disney said. "My superintendent supports it. It's supported by our assistant superintendent, all 11 principals and all 11 of our athletic directors and football coaches. I don't see any other options and I don't see any negatives. To us, it's a no-brainer."

Disney and Ron Belinko, his Baltimore County equivalent, will be among the board's expected 66 statewide voting members at the Ocean City meeting, where 34 (or more than half) of those on hand must favor the plan for it to pass.

If not all of the members are present, a quorum (or at least 34 members) must be present to favor a plan that would qualify 16 teams for the postseason from each of the state's four classifications.

"The idea of having, say, Hereford, Edmondson, City and Eastern Tech playing out of the same region, with the winner going to the state semifinals - that's going to draw a lot of local interest," Belinko said. "I expect you'll see a good number of delegates because this is something that has sparked some discussion."

If the plan is approved tomorrow, the state's 24 school superintendents must ratify it at their monthly meeting, May 19. At least one more than half of the superintendents present have to agree with the plan before it can go into effect this fall, said state association executive director Ned Sparks.

"To say that one [board approval] is a rubber stamp for the other [superintendent approval] wouldn't be accurate. It's never a done deal," Sparks said. "But hopefully the board, being made up of principals, supervisors, athletic directors, coaches and superintendents, has done a good job of representing all views before going to the superintendents."

Two more issues to be brought before the board tomorrow are whether or not the pole vault should be revised as a scoring event in track and field, and whether a full, double-elimination format should be allowed for the state wrestling tournament.

Duke Beattie, chairman of the state wrestling tournament, said he expects little resistance to double-elimination provided a larger venue - say Cole Field House - can be found to replace McDaniel College. Presently, wrestlers who lose in the first round at states are eliminated.

Disney, whose Howard County athletes won 11 pole-vault titles from 1995 to 2001, said he will vote to eliminate the pole vault.

"We are going to vote not to have the pole vault because we can't guarantee the quality of coaching that's necessary to continue the event at all of the schools," Disney said.

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