PIERRE-Landscape-altering changes could be on the horizon for South Dakota high school athletics.
Among the items on the agenda for today's South Dakota High School Activities Association Board of Directors meeting is the addition of instant replay in football and basketball state championship games.
The addition of instant replay in football was voted unanimously following the first reading of the amendment, as was basketball and SDHSAA Assistant Executive Director John Krogstrand does not envision that changing.
"Until two years ago, I don't think we had any replay on the majority of our broadcasts of state events, let alone a replay system for officials to use," Krogstrand said. "It's still something that we'll have to work through logistic challenges. The vast majority realize that it's a great opportunity to ensure that we don't lose a year of being able to implement it."
Missed calls in football and basketball state tournament contests helped push the board toward replay, particularly when Sioux Falls O'Gorman's Luke Ronsiek appeared to hit a game-winning shot to beat Yankton in the Class AA semifinals, but was later shown to have come after the buzzer.
While replay has garnered a strong backing, opponents don't need to worry, according to Krogstrand. Fears of replay elongating games as officials review call after call won't be necessary with strict criteria for use.
In basketball, review in state finals is limited to determining a two or 3-point shot and whether the ball was released prior to the final horn in the fourth quarter. In football, replays are allotted on scoring plays, turnovers and any play in the final two minutes of a half in a two-possession game.
"It's something I don't think officials will use as a crutch," Krogstrand said. "Every official I have spoken with is excited to use replay, because at the end of the day, everyone just wants to get the call right. Using a five-man crew of part-time officials on a football field, it's simply challenging to get all of those calls right."
Splitting combined state basketball tournaments
Changes also appear to be coming for the 2021 state basketball tournaments. A proposal to discontinue the Class AA and Class A combined tournaments received a 7-1 majority vote on the first reading. The combined format has been used for the Class AA tournaments for four seasons, while Class A used the combined format for the first time earlier this year.
One of the driving forces to move to having all three classes of boys tournaments one weekend in three different locations and girls on another weekend was to bring more buzz to the semifinals and finals.
"In those single settings, that Friday night is one of the most electric atmospheres in South Dakota sports," Krogstrand said. "Those games being played earlier in the afternoon and the setting has maybe made it not what it was before."
An increase in attendance-particularly for girls basketball-was originally one of the pushes to move to a combined tournament, but Krogstrand couldn't point to a definitive increase or decrease directly related to the combined setting.
"It's difficult to say the combined tournaments have improved or vastly improved attendance," Krogstrand said. "... The Class A championships in Sioux Falls had an incredible following. But at the same time, it could be argued whether it was because of the combined format or was it because of the geographic location in relation to teams that made it into the semifinal round?"
Additional items on the agenda
• It appears girls tennis could begin the season a week earlier in preparation for moving to a two-class system, which is also up for a second reading.
• The board is also considering a one-year contract with South Dakota State University to host the 2019 state championship football games while the DakotaDome undergoes renovations. The SDHSAA is currently in a 15-year contract with the University of South Dakota and that deal would be placed on hold before resuming in 2020.
• Changing Class A golf state qualifying standards from the top 60 percent to 50 percent, along with reinstating region play in Class AA.
• Class 11B football playoff format would seed teams No. 1 through No. 16.