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What you need to know about the vote to change the high school playoffs

BOSTON, MA - 02/12/2020 while participating in the MIAA EMass Division 1 Indoor Track & Field championships at the Reggie Lewis Center. Erin Clark / Globe Staff
Erin Clark/Globe staff
Runners race around the track at the Reggie Lewis Center during the eastern Massachusetts Division 1 indoor track and field championships earlier this month.

Representatives from the 380 members of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) will vote Friday on a proposal to create a statewide tournament format for team sports beginning in the 2021-2022 school year.

Related: Big changes are coming to the high school playoffs. Friday’s vote will determine which way it goes

Here is what you need to know about the proposal:

When is the vote?

Friday morning at Assabet Valley Regional Tech in Marlborough. Schools will have one vote for “yes” or “no” with no school or name attached.

Prior to the vote, the Tournament Management Committee (TMC) will present its plan at 9:45 a.m. Then proponents and opponents will be invited to speak for about two minutes in an alternating pattern.

What does the MIAA board of directors think?


The MIAA board of directors voted 15-0-2 Dec. 11 to recommend support for the adoption of a statewide format. The TMC has the power to push the proposal through, but is asking for a vote.

Pro/con: Two ADs weigh in on the statewide tournament vote

What happens if it’s
a ‘no’ vote?

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  Divisions and alignments will be shifted ahead of the 2021-22 school year to create balanced sections and divisions. That likely would mean pushing schools currently in the Central division to the West and schools in the North or South divisions into the Central.

What happens if it’s
a ‘yes’ vote?

The TMC will task individual sport committees with determining the number of divisions and providing suggestions for the format for different team sports. Committees may request an additional 1A division for “Super Eight” tournaments.

Schools will be able to appeal their placement within divisions. Schools would not be forced to move up to balance those divisions if another school is granted the appeal (which would be the case if there is a “no” vote.

Related: What can we learn from how other states run their tournaments?

Who will determine
the seedings? How will

it work?

Beginning in the Fall of 2020, all tournaments will be seeded according to a proprietary power ratings system provided by MaxPreps. This is not up for vote, although the TMC plans to modify the system and discuss specifics, such as whether point differential will be part of the equation.

Under the statewide tournament proposal, all team sports will use power seeding to qualify the top 32 teams, but teams with winning records that didn’t qualify will be eligible for preliminary games. Sport committees can determine that smaller divisions may qualify 16 teams.


All games will be at the home site of higher seeds through the Round of 8 with standard fees and revenue for hosting school. State semifinals, and finals will be at neutral sites with the MIAA assuming all expenses.

Craig Larson can be reached at craig.larson@globe.com. Nate Weitzer contributed to this report.