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WIAA approves football practice guidelines

STEVENS POINT-- The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) Board of Control has unanimously approved a set of football player-on-player contact regulations for practices recommended by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association, the WIAA sports medical advisory committee and WIAA executives Dave Anderson and Wade Labecki, effective beginning in the 2014 season.

The board took the action at its annual summer meeting last Thursday, June 26.

The regulations come at a time of raised awareness about the dangers of head injuries and questions about the safety of the sport. Other states have enacted or are considering limits.

The new regulations divide player-on-player contact into five categories, and limitations are placed on the competition/full contact designations. For the first week of practice, no full contact is permitted. In the second week of practice, full contact is limited to 75 minutes per week, excluding a scrimmage; and for the third week and beyond, 60 minutes of full contact is permitted per week, excluding games.

Three activities are suitable for drill/contact:

--Air is defined as drills run without bags or opposition.

--Bags is considered activity "against a bag, shield, or pad to allow for a soft-contact surface, with or without the resistance of a teammate or coach standing behind the bag.”

--Wrap is considered drills run at full speed until contact, which is above the waist with players remaining on their feet.

These activities are considered competition/full contact:

--Thud. This is the same as a wrap, but the tempo is competitive, with no pre-determined winner, and the players are not tackled to the ground.

--Live competition or full contact. These are drills or game situations that occur at game speed when full tackles are made at a competitive pace and players are taken to the ground.

Other action

The WIAA Board of Control also voted, 10-0, Thursday to use video replays at its state hockey tournaments beginning next season to review questionable goals and correct time on the score clock.

The two referees on the ice and a replay official at a secluded location will review the plays and arrive at a decision together.

The final decision to review a play will rest with the referees and replay official. Coaches will not have the power to call for replay.

The format is modeled after the systems used by the NHL and NCAA.

Of the number of coaches’ recommendations presented in wrestling, three were passed into regulations. 

Assistant referees will be used for the semifinals and finals of the State Team and Individual Tournaments beginning in 2015, and the third and fifth place matches will be run concurrently by weight class and division in the State Individual Tournament.

Other board action in wrestling retains the 3 p.m. start time for the finals session of the State Team Tournament implemented last March to accommodate the Big Ten Wrestling Championships schedule.