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Classification, bats and practice time among prep issues

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Classification criteria will be one of the more heavily discussed issues this week at the Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association annual conference.

The conference begins today at the Waikiki Beach Marriott and concludes with final voting Saturday.

All proposals supported by HIADA will face scrutiny when the Hawaii High School Athletic Association meets later this month.

The Maui Interscholastic League is expected to offer a proposal to streamline the state’s varying criteria for Divisions I and II. Currently, criteria is set by individual leagues, though proposals for uniform standards have been proposed in the past.

In the MIL and Interscholastic League of Honolulu, classification is determined primarily by enrollment size. The Oahu Interscholastic Association relies on a power rating, which means a large school such as Farrington is in Division I for football, but plays baseball in Division II.

The notion of large schools like Farrington or Campbell playing D-II for various sports is unique to Hawaii. Part of the OIA’s dilemma comes from the lack of feeder programs in several communities. Baseball youth leagues, for example, have disappeared in central Honolulu, hurting the varsity programs at Farrington, McKinley and Kaimuki.

That’s why HIADA will have committee discussions before approving or rejecting proposals. Those that advance to the final voting on Saturday often come with amendments.

The BIIF will propose a three-team minimum per league to qualify for a state berth. The proposal deals indirectly with the ILH, which has sent teams to the D-II state tournaments even though it had only one competing D-II member in certain sports. Last season, Mid-Pacific won the D-II boys soccer state title. Only one other school, Pac-Five, is in D-II in ILH boys soccer.

The proposal would be inconsistent, however, with statewide adherence to the HHSAA’s policy.

"For any proposal to require a minimum number of teams (from a league) would be a departure from the formula," Hawaii Baptist athletic director Deren Oshiro said.

The ILH’s baseball D-II format won’t be impacted if this proposal passes HIADA and the HHSAA executive board. St. Francis is expected to join Maryknoll and Pac-Five in D-II. Pac West is also in D-II, but is not eligible for the state tournament.

Another issue involves composite bats in baseball. A lawsuit in California following a serious injury has drawn widespread attention. OIA executive director Dwight Toyama said the league is studying the issue in advance of a proposal that may ban composite bats.

"The NCAA will ban (composite bats). Glenn Nitta (OIA baseball coordinator) is studying that issue. When the bats come out of the factory, they’re legitimate, but over time they become more lively," Toyama said.

He also noted that athletes and coaches across the country have used "rollers" available for purchase online to configure bats for more power.

"There’s no way an umpire can tell," Toyama said.

Passage of an anti-composite bat proposal would lead leagues back to aluminum bats.

"The ILH is talking about wood bats. It’s a mean disadvantage," Toyama said. "The BIIF banned (composite bats) from their league, but they used composite bats at states. They found it made a big difference."

Another proposal could limit student-athletes to 15 hours of practice time per week.

"It would be similar to the NCAA. We’re probably the only state without a limit," Toyama said.

Complaints haven’t been numerous, Toyama added, though there was an exception two years ago involving a swim program in the BIIF.

"The trainers came up with all the details. They’re going on the recommendations of the American Pediatric Association. Fifteen hours a week, that’s reasonable," Toyama said.


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