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IHSA considers changes to basketball tournaments

By Scot Bertram
Illinois News Network

BLOOMINGTON –Changes could be coming to the state’s high school basketball tournaments.

Officials with the Illinois High School Association currently are accepting feedback from school administrators across the state about a proposal to adjust the schedule of the organization’s state championship games. Under the plan, all four classes of girls would play in the state finals on a single weekend and all four classes of boys would play on the following weekend.

“They had asked us to look into ways to reinvigorate the state basketball tournament,” said Matt Troha, assistant executive director of the Illinois High School Association. “We came up with a handful of ideas and presented them to them and that was the one that had the most momentum among our board.”

The boys state finals would fall on the first weekend of March, avoiding a conflict with the other form of March Madness.

“One of the things we identified as sought these ideas is (we’ve) got to get off the NCAA tournament opening weekend,” Troha said. “It’s just become too much of a cultural phenomenon.”

Troha described attendance at recent state finals as fairly steady over the past five years or so. He said the numbers can fluctuate, though, depending on how many fans certain teams bring along for the event.

“Part of it is if we consolidate it down and do it on one weekend, maybe it’s better for the fan in this day and age.”

Other possible changes discussed included having the girls and boys finals for the smaller classes on one weekend and the larger classes on the following weekend.

They also broached the possibility of splitting venues for the 1A/2A finals and the 3A/4A finals. In the end, those ideas were shelved in favor of the current proposal.

“They wanted to put it out there publicly and have our staff have discussions with ADs and coaches. Get some feedback,” Troha said. “There are several states that do that format and we wanted to see if people thought it might work better than the current model here in Illinois.”

Troha said he anticipates a decision on the format change will come by the June 10 board meeting. At that point, different venues would have the ability to bid on hosting the tournament and a final announcement could come shortly after the state finals next year.

IHSA schools recently voted to approve changes to high school football in the state. Beginning with the 2021 season, a district-based regular season scheduling system will replace the current conference format.

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