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Co-op issues dominate PCOA meeting

January 27, 2014

As expected, the Cumberland High football team will be making the move to Division I next season. PHOTO BY ERNEST A. BROWN

PROVIDENCE — The issue of cooperative teams in the Rhode Island Interscholastic League has long been a source of concern. It’s also a topic that features far too much gray area, from schools finding creative ways and/or loopholes to save existing co-op programs, to establishing new ones under the guise of promoting interscholastic athletics.
At long last, a solution that addresses a situation that’s akin to the elephant in the room appears on the verge of implementation. At Monday’s RIIL Principals’ Committee on Athletics meeting, the board received information regarding policies and regulations for co-ops that will be distributed to the schools.
Among the pieces of legislation that were stressed pertained to written assurance that “a no cut policy will govern the cooperative programs.” Those co-op teams that are granted permission to unite will have to reapply every two years. Interscholastic League executives will screen each applicant who wishes to re-up before the findings are brought before the PCOA.
Three member high schools will still have the opportunity to co-op – providing the schools express difficulty in obtaining a proper number of competitors based on the sport in question. The league also plans to carefully weigh proposals that could be viewed as a desire to save money “at the risk of decreasing the number of potential student participants.”
What also will be emphasized is making sure the participating schools are located in the same geographic area. Presently in girls’ hockey, you have Smithfield and North Smithfield partnering up with Coventry.
Speaking of team alignment, that will be determined on the basis of combined enrollments of all schools in the cooperative team. Based on the 2012-13 eligibility lists, the average roster size in boys’ hockey and girls’ hockey would feature 24 participants. Boys’ lacrosse could field a team that does not exceed 32 players with girls’ lacrosse capped at 30 participants.
Under the guidelines section, all schools participating in the co-op must have a minimum of three players.
Co-op teams are most prevalent in hockey, though the PCD/Wheeler/Juanita Sanchez has been emerged as a mainstay in Division IV football since 2010. Other sports appear to be catching on as Monday saw the PCOA grant the approval for Rogers and Middletown to combine in boys’ tennis.
In the current hockey season, there are five boys’ co-op teams and seven girls’ co-op entries, all of which include public schools. Two of the boys’ hockey operations featured three schools combing resources and talent while on the girls’ side of ledger, you have four teams with at least three schools under the same umbrella.
If everything checks out accordingly, the policies could become enacted beginning with the 2014-15 school year.

– In other matters Monday, two-year realignments in all fall sports were approved. The biggest changes in football include Cumberland moving up to Division I, Tolman dropping to Division II and Burrillville falling to Division IV.
In boys’ soccer, Woonsocket goes from Division I to Division III. The Novans are also out of the state’s top division in field hockey, moving to II-North where they’ll be joined by Burrillville and Cumberland.
This marks the first realignment under the new 70/20/10 calculation. The number 70 represents the eight-year weighted win percentage that takes into account league data beginning with the 2006 season through 2013.
The 20 percent of the derivative is determined by the male enrollment total that was submitted to the Interscholastic League on Oct. 1, 2013. The remaining 10 percent takes into account win percentage based on the last three seasons.
“It’s a formula that works for the vast majority of the teams,” noted Lincoln High Principal and PCOA Chairman Kevin McNamara. “It has us on a good path.”
– As reported earlier this month and approved by the PCOA Monday, the football semifinals in all divisions will be held the Friday before Thanksgiving. That means the elimination of league games on the holiday. Those Turkey Day rivals who happen to play in the same division will now meet earlier in the season.
– Indoor track coaches at Tolman, St. Raphael and Central Falls were fined $100 and suspended for one meet after failing to report athletes to the eligibility list. The suspension must be served this season with only the class and state meets remaining.
– Contact during football season will be limited to 90 minutes per week.
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03

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