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NIAA must change all-star game policy
by Dan Eckles
Jun 25, 2013 | 1312 views | 2 2 comments | 39 39 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association (NIAA) got through its quarterly meeting in Las Vegas last week with relatively little fanfare.

There weren't many, if any, controversial items on the agenda, leaving the state's governing body for high school sports avoiding the spotlight for its second meeting of 2013.

One of the more newsworthy issues revolves around State Bill 135 from the recently convened Nevada Legislative session. The bill forces the NIAA to set up guidelines that allow for high school all-star games during the school year. The organization's current rules allow for all-star games only at the end of the school year.

Standout individual athletes have been able to participate in national events, like the McDonald's High School American Basketball Game, but all-star games organized in state and comprised of all in-state athletes had only been allowed at the conclusion of each school year's final state championship events.

The Sertoma Classic all-star football game, played last weekend, and comprised of 60 of the top football players in northern Nevada, has always been played in mid-June but now the event, or one similar, could be played at the conclusion of Nevada's high school football season in December.

NIAA Assistant Director Donnie Nelson said the efforts to get the bill passed by the Legislature originated in southern Nevada.

"The bill authorizes the NIAA to approve high school all-star games during the school year," he said. "Our past policy did not allow that. Our regulations must be changed."

Even with SB 135 approved, any group looking to host an all-star game in a given sport during the school year that would be open to Nevada prep athletes would have to meet NIAA criteria. Nelson said that criteria has not been finalized but he did expound on what it will likely include. He stressed any hosting organization would: need to be non-profit, secure liability insurance, make sure athletes had certified equipment, use certified coaches, not charge athletes to participate and turn in a postgame report.

Nelson said the old rule was in place to keep all-star events from a fall sport fielding athletes from a winter sport and causing conflicts from an athlete-sharing standpoint. He added that the NIAA does not view the change as negative, but stressed it will force athletes and their families to communicate even more with coaches about potential conflicts.

"Initially, I think it's a bad idea," Spanish Springs high School athletic director Art Anderson said. "I haven't thought about it a whole lot, probably because the old system worked well, but being a huge proponent of multi-sport athletes, I think it's a bad idea ... I think we had a good system. I don't think it needed to be changed."

In other news at the meeting, the NIAA continues to clarify language regarding school membership status. It is looking to add two new classifications of membership status, preparatory membership and associate membership.

A preparatory membership allows the NIAA to recognize a school as a member without forcing the school to compete in regular season league play or allowing it to compete in postseason play.

An associate membership would allow a school to play a regular season schedule against other NIAA schools but not compete for postseason championships.

Verbiage on both membership classifications has been approved by the NIAA's Board but is waiting for approval from Nevada's legislative council to be finalized.

Additionally, the NIAA is altering its paperwork for private school members. All NIAA private school members, like Bishop Manogue in Reno and Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, must fill out a yearly compliance form. That compliance form will now include an inquiry, asking if schools have any students receiving more than 50 percent of tuition assistance. If the answer is 'yes,' the school must answer what the total number of those students is and how many of those are athletes.

The goal is to find out if athletes at private schools are receiving special tuition assistance in comparison to students who are not athletes.

Lastly, the NIAA holds steadfast to a rule in swimming that in order for any student athlete to compete in a postseason meet, he or she must have competed in more than half of the school's regular season meets.

Coaches statewide have lobbied to eliminate the rule but the Board of Control voted to keep the rule.

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July 09, 2013
I like the idea of the bill, it takes into account the shortened summer that Washoe county school kids are facing this year. With the shorter summer and longer school year it only makes sense to allow for all-star games to be played during the school year & in the flow of the season. This change could also increase exposure to the athletes.
June 26, 2013
If the NIAA really thinks Bishop Gorman isn't running it's sports teams, especially football, like a small college, than they have their heads somewhere hidden! And how many 19 and 20 year olds are they letting play? Obviously, Shabazz Mohammed was 19 during his senior year considering he was a 20 year old freshman at UCLA.
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