Published Friday, April 12, 2013 at 9:27 pm / Updated at 9:47 pm
NSAA OKs playoff changes

LINCOLN — New postseason formats for Class C-1 and C-2 football and Class B volleyball and soccer were approved this week at Nebraska School Activities Association meetings. But a proposed change was rejected in Class B basketball.

Also forthcoming will be a performance-based district assignment method for Class A football.

The NSAA Representative Assembly, without discussion, voted 38-9 Friday to put C-1 and C-2 in the same football playoff structure as Classes A and B beginning in 2014.

The four classes, which all play 11-man football, will have nine-game schedules, qualify 16 teams for state and play first-round, quarterfinal and semifinal playoff games Fridays.

Classes C-1 and C-2 currently use a format that had eight-game schedules and 32 playoff qualifiers, with the first three rounds of playoff games falling on a Thursday, a Wednesday and a Tuesday.

At its Thursday meeting, the NSAA Board of Directors narrowly approved a qualifying plan for volleyball and soccer unique to Class B. The vote was 4-3, with Wendy Henrichs of District I Lincoln East abstaining.

In those sports starting next season, the postseason will begin with eight four-team, geographically based districts.

The district champions, along with eight wild-card qualifiers from the season point standings, will be seeded 1 through 16 for a new substate round on the Saturday before the state tournament. The eight substate winners advance to state.

There was a similar proposal for Class B boys and girls basketball, but it failed on a 3-4 vote, again with Henrichs abstaining. Alan Garey of District V Hitchcock County, who voted yes to the change in volleyball and soccer, cast the swing vote against basketball that reflected District V’s 0-10 vote on the measure at its January legislative meeting.

The suggested schedule in the basketball proposal would have featured substate games on a Friday for girls and Tuesday for boys. It’s possible that substate opponents could be from schools more than 400 miles apart. Since substate soccer and volleyball would take place on a Saturday, teams wouldn’t have to miss school time to play a faraway opponent.

In Class A football, starting in 2014, the 28 schools will be divided into four districts and assigned based on a two-year point-system average.

Schedules will consist of three nondistrict games and six district contests. The district champion, runner-up and third-place team in the district win-loss standings qualify for the playoffs, with the final four teams determined by the point standings. The new format eliminates the current system of five districts, three made up entirely of Metro Conference schools.

NSAA Executive Director Rhonda Blanford-Green told the 51 Representative Assembly delegates that her office is weighing different scheduling formats in basketball after state tournament attendance dropped by 7,000 for boys and by 4,000 for girls.

“Trying to be equitable, and the bottom line, don’t match,” she said.

Board chairman Bob Reznicek of District II Boys Town said the NSAA, before it can determine future formats for state basketball, is awaiting the results of a survey of athletic directors and coaches on their preferred format. The NSAA is also checking into whether Nebraska’s Big Ten basketball schedule could accommodate Wednesday starts to the state tournaments if they switched to a four-day format.

Other NSAA changes approved, with implementation beginning in the 2013-14 season:

Girls cross country: The district- and state-meet distance will increase from 4,000 meters to match the boys distance of 5,000 meters.

Baseball: Class B will have six districts instead of four.

Basketball: Running-clock timing rules will take effect when a team leads by 40 points or more after the first half.

Cross country: Class D will have six districts instead of five.

Legislative: May 1 will become the deadline for enrollment option transfers. Additionally, the NSAA board will review the state’s legislative district boundaries annually, with a formal review committee brought in every fourth year.

Rocket coach resigns

LINCOLN — Justin Smith resigned after four years as Lincoln Northeast’s football coach to take a similar position at Sergeant Bluff-Luton (Iowa).

Steve Throne, who has been at Sergeant Bluff as athletic director, will return to Millard South as its A.D. following Nolan Beyer’s hiring as the Millard Public Schools’ director of athletics.

Rocky Ruhl is stepping down after 20 seasons as boys basketball coach at Wayne, with Rob Sweetland his replacement. Ruhl, whose career record is 335-182, will remain the school’s A.D.

Ruhl said Jeff Zeiss has been hired as the Blue Devils’ girls basketball coach.

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Contact the writer: Stu Pospisil    |   402-444-1041    |  

Stu Pospisil has been The World-Herald's lead writer for high school sports since 1990 and for golf since 1988. He primarily covers football in the fall, basketball and wrestling in the winter and track and field in the spring.

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