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RIIL Principals’ Committee on Athletics talks re-alignment

June 17, 2013

PROVIDENCE – While far from finalized, several realignment proposals were shared and discussed amongst the Rhode Island Interscholastic League’s Principals’ Committee on Athletics Monday afternoon.

Speaking on behalf of the realignment committee, Prout Athletic Director Mike Traficante presented modifications to the formula that has been the determining factor in placing teams in corresponding divisions. The earliest these changes would take effect is the 2014-15 academic year, the first year following the expiration of the current two-year realignment agreement.

The new plan would still consider eight years of league data, which accounts for 70 percent of the formula. Ten percent would take into account a team’s record over the past three years, which according to Traficante “would help schools avoid being higher if they had a great player or two four years ago.”

The final 20 percent would be based on male or female enrollment. The current formula has a 70/30 split with 70 representing results over an eight-year span with 30 reserved for enrollment. The new formula that Traficante mentioned would feature a 70/20/10 breakdown.

Traficante said that the way a school tabulates enrollment is also under review. He specifically cited Woonsocket High and how the submitted numbers don’t always paint an accurate picture.

“Their numbers may be close to 1,800, but they have 150 students at the school that are not eligible to play athletics because of their age or they’re fifth-year seniors or something to that affect,” Traficante explained. “We’re looking at the possibility of getting more accurate numbers. It’ll help get the larger schools out of the higher divisions where they suffer because of their enrollment and maybe boost up some of the smaller schools who have been successful in lower divisions.”

The sports that would not be subject to realignment would include golf, indoor and outdoor track and swimming. Everything else is fair game, says Traficante, though there are questions about how to proceed with ice hockey, a sport loaded with co-op programs.

It’s possible, Traficante said, that the realignment committee will send out a one-question survey to schools: “Do you wish to participate in Division I?”

“We want to give the schools an opportunity to play up a division if they so choose,” said Traficante.

Using girls’ basketball as an example, Traficante said that in the event of only seven teams opting to compete in the top division and the girls’ basketball committee comes back with an 18-team Division I, the PCOA and the R.I. Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association, “we can put some of the onus on that committee.

“Just because you don’t opt to play in Division I doesn’t mean you’re not going to end up there. You’re certainly not going to have a seven-team Division I girls’ basketball league,” Traficante added.

After deliberation and cross-referencing the numbers, Traficante feels that most of Rhode Island’s teams probably fit best in Division II -- there are only a handful of true Division I teams, and a third division is essential in some sports to achieve balanced competition. Again, the athletic director stressed the vigilance that each sport’s committee must show when figuring out where to slot teams.

“We’re looking into as many variables as possible,” said Traficante when asked about placing a team at a competitive disadvantage, i.e. in a division where it has little chance to succeed.

Tom Mezzanotte, RIIL executive director, took the occasion reflect on just how far the realignment process has come since he came onboard nearly a decade ago.

“Before I came to this position, sports committees were basically made up of coaches. Since we came up with this formula, administrators and athletic directors now have more of a say in terms of the running of those sports, and I think that’s important,” Mezzanotte expressed. “We can’t expect (the PCOA) to come up with all the answers. What we want is the sport committees to come to you with good recommendations.”

Below are some other items discussed at Monday’s PCOA meeting at RIIL headquarters, located at Rhode Island College:

– In a move that was almost a foregone conclusion, three members of the now-defunct Tolman High hockey program – Jared Pedro, Kristopher Wallace and Teddy Reall – will be allowed to join a one-year co-op team with Scituate. The PCOA voted 15-0 in favor of the request that was first presented at January’s meeting. Signed approval from the principal and school committee from Pawtucket and Scituate was required prior to final consent.

– The request that Woonsocket High to drop from Division I to II in girls’ basketball was unanimously denied (14-0). The girls’ basketball committee had already heard and rejected the Novans’ wish to relocate.

Mezzanotte said that a letter was received that stated Woonsocket should drop down because it “lost 17 leagues games last year by an average of 32 points.” The Novans went 1-17 in 2012-13.

– The Lincoln/Cumberland girls’ hockey program was re-upped for the 2013-14 season. The Lions advanced to the Division II finals this past season.

– The results from the survey that was sent out regarding the future of co-op teams was discussed. Mezzanotte stated that there are plenty of variables to still consider before arriving at a more definitive conclusion.

– Starting next season, a win in boys’ and girls’ soccer will now result in three points. The reason why two points used to be awarded was to increase the chances of a team making the playoffs with a 40 percent winning percentage or better. The three-points-per-win now eliminates those teams who play for a tie.

– The new chairman of the PCOA for the next five years is Lincoln High Principal Kevin McNamara. He takes over for Johnston Principal Gerry Foley.

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