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SDHSAA talks about which towns can host state tournaments

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PIERRE — The battle over which communities can host high school state meets and tournaments intensified Wednesday.

Staff for the South Dakota High School Activities Association released a chart showing red marks signifying deficiencies in communities.

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Fifteen communities received red marks in one to as many as eight events.

The perceived deficiencies covered a wide range, from not enough motel rooms in Aberdeen and Huron, to not enough seating at the Young Center in Spearfish.

Sturgis was dinged for not enough restaurants open to feed competitors late at night.

Agitated school and business representatives spoke up at the SDHSAA board meeting Wednesday afternoon.

There were plenty of board members, too, who didn’t seem happy.

SDHSAA executive director Wayne Carney said the red marks don’t mean a community automatically is eliminated from future consideration.

The association’s board will receive staff recommendations in March for the 2018 round of state events. The board works four years ahead on selecting sites.

“We don’t want anybody to get blind-sided,” Carney said. “The document should help you identify what those red flags are.”

Carney said the board has been accused in recent years of trying to steer as many state events to Sioux Falls as possible.

Carney said it’s always been up to the association’s staff to formulate guidelines they use in reaching their preferences. He said the board hasn’t voted on the guidelines.

Board member Mike Miller of Aberdeen said the board should vote.

“It really doesn’t technically need board approval,” Carney said. Replied Miller, “We need to change that.”

Pierre athletic director Dan Whalen asked Carney whether the red boxes on the chart were “probation or a death sentence.”

“It’s not a set of minimum requirements?” Whalen asked.

“It’s a set of guidelines,” Carney responded.

Huron superintendent Terry Nebelsick is a former member of the association board and a past chairman. “I just hope there’s a time to discuss certain criteria,” Nebelsick said.

The current chairman, Darren Paulson, of Rapid City Central High School, saw the board had a hornet’s nest in its lap.

Paulson said the red-mark chart should be sent to all of the school districts today.

The chart wasn’t available on the association’s website before or during the meeting.

“Let ’em look at it. Let ’em see what they can do,” Paulson said.

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