The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) announced 10 new proposed amendments on Dec. 21.

The amendments were submitted by either a member school or the WIAA Executive Board this year.

One of the 10 proposed amendments includes a change to the rule allowing 2B size schools to utilize eighth grade students in their athletic teams. The proposed amendment is to change the language of the original rule to add 1A schools to be eligible to utilize this rule.

This proposed amendment is being led by Omak High School and backed by Cascade High School (Leavenworth), Cashmere High School, Chelan High School and Quincy High School.

QHS Athletic Director Brett Fancher said that this amendment was pursued last year by Omak and did not pass. Fancher said that QHS has no plans for eighth grade students to participate in high school sports because it does not meet Quincy’s needs. It was signed by Quincy for support, and since it also impacts other schools in the Caribou Trail League.

Fancher said that regardless of the amendment passing this year or not, Omak has been granted an experimental year this year by the WIAA to utilize eighth grade students and see how it goes. Fancher said that the intent for this is to salvage a season.

Schools who do use this rule forfeit their chance to participate in the postseason which includes the state tournament.

According to the release, the language for each amendment will be discussed and finalized by the WIAA Representative Assembly during the Winter Coalition on January 25. After the amendments have been finalized, feedback forums will be made available on the WIAA website to encourage an informed discussion. A public forum will then be made available to gather feedback from people outside of the membership.

Voting on the proposed amendments will take place between April 29 and May 7.

The release listed the following pros and cons for the proposed amendment to allow 1A schools to utilize eighth grade students in high school sports:

Pros:

It would allow 1A schools to increase participation and salvage athletic programs so sport seasons are not cancelled, or game forfeited.

The amendment mirrors the existing 2B language which has already been adopted in the WIAA handbook.

It would help 1A schools which offer many spring sports to establish a junior varsity program.

The amendment would facilitate scheduling for other schools to help ensure that there are not cancelled games or seasons because of a lack of numbers.

This amendment narrowly failed last year (ML/HS amendments need 32 votes to approve to pass; the final vote was 28-23-2). Based upon a request to provide more information to the membership, the WIAA Executive Board approved an experiment to allow 1A schools to utilize eighth graders during the regular season during 2020-21 school year (those teams would not be eligible for postseason play).

Cons:

There would be possible additional costs to the school district for referee fees, transportation costs, and coaching salaries by having increased participation.

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