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IHSAA Board Meeting Notes - New Executive Director Named
The IHSAA Board of Directors announced the hiring of a new Executive Director to replace Ty Jones
Published: 1/17/2024 1:21:33 PM


The Idaho High School Activities Association’s January board meeting brought clarity to the future of the leadership within the organization, with the board of directors naming their new leader.

Chad Williams, who currently serves as the superintendent of the Shelley School District in eastern Idaho, was approved unanimously as the next executive director of the IHSAA. He will begin in his new position on July 1, 2024.

Williams, who has previously served in school leadership and athletic capacities in the Ririe, Teton, and West Jefferson School Districts, along with serving on the IHSAA’s board of directors, will take over as executive director from Ty Jones, who is retiring.

In his remarks to the board at the meeting following their approval of his hire, Williams said he is ready to work and get rolling.

“I am committed to building relationships with athletic directors, principals, and superintendents across the state,” he said. “I look forward to it.”

Williams expressed that he has experienced a range of emotions since he was offered the job, from excitement to nervousness, anxious to scared, but said that the one he feels the most at this time is humility.

“I’m very humbled to be in this position and I hope that I can meet the goals and expectations of everyone,” he said.

The new executive director said that roughly 20 years ago he had seen this process play out when former executive director John Billetz was hired to lead the IHSAA. At that time, he said, it triggered something within him to want to be ready for an opportunity to lead an organization such as the IHSAA. That day has now come.

“I know what extracurricular activities and everything that the IHSAA represents, I am passionate about it,” Williams said.

Williams mentioned that his experience as a coach, teacher, athletic director, principal, and superintendent, while also serving on the IHSAA board of directors, the YEA board of directors, and the District VI board of control has prepared him for this job, though he acknowledged that there will certainly be a transition period into his new role. He called this his personal “grind”, in reference to former Boise State head coach Chris Peterson’s use of the phrase “the grind”.

“I don’t share these things to say ‘Hey, look at me’, but I share it to show that if you go through the grind, it will pay off,” he stated.

State Baseball Is Now An Official IHSAA State Tournament
In April of 2023, a letter was sent in by St. Maries High School in support of the IHSAA becoming the official sponsor of the state baseball tournament. Nine months later, that is now a reality.

The board of directors voted unanimously to take over the management of the five state baseball tournaments, effective with the 2024-2025 school year. These tournaments had been previously operated by the athletic directors and coaches within the state.

Generally speaking, the athletic directors were seeking some regulation of the tournaments, including how many bids to the tournament each district would receive, the tournament location, times, and more. A survey sent out by the IHSAA found that there was more than 90% support across the state between coaches, athletic directors, principals, and superintendents.

Prior to this decision, baseball was a sanctioned sport but one that did not have a state tournament that was sponsored by the IHSAA. 

State Tournament Expansion - Is It Happening?
One of the other big ticket items of the board meeting was the topic of expansion of the state tournaments in soccer, volleyball, basketball, softball and baseball.

Currently, bids to the state tournaments are divided out to each district and conference based on a percentage formula. It provides a way for each district to have equal or as close-to-equal representation at the state tournament. It does not, however, guarantee that the best teams by ranking, whether that ranking be MaxPreps, media polls, or coaches polls, make it to the state tournament. 

During the board meeting, IHSAA executive director Ty Jones said that if there is a different method being used somewhere, it needs to be considered.

“We can’t do things the way we did in 1990,” he said. “We have to look at all options.”

Part of the philosophy of equal representation is built into the IHSAA rules, something that assistant director Julie Hammons said would need to be adjusted or modified.

“An expansion of the state tournaments would require us to potentially include a “quality of team” aspect in our rules and philosophy if we were to move to that,” she said.

While most everyone agreed that expansion was coming, the form in which it is coming is the unknown aspect at the moment. 

“Expansion is already happening in states around the country,” board member Tim Perrigot said. “If we want to do this, the schools in our state are going to have to be all-in because of the cost and effort required to run it.”

Perrigot continued on that the burden that would be placed on the current IHSAA office staff would be large, insinuating that more staff may need to be hired to manage the day-to-day workings because of the expansion.

Spencer Barzee of the State Department of Education agreed. “We have to be cautious about what we put on our office staff. We also need to be cautious about how travel would be affected by the expansion.”

Travel may be one of the biggest issues. In a state where north and south are separated by mountain ranges and freeways outside of the state are used to access different portions of Idaho, there could potentially be a lot of travel involved. This is an issue that the state’s superintendents are going to have to decide on - is the potential increased travel cost worth the opportunity to go to the state tournament?

The IHSAA will be sending out surveys to the state’s athletic directors, principals, and superintendents to gauge what level of expansion would be supported. The findings will be presented at the next IHSAA board meeting, which is scheduled for April 10, 2024.

Other Items of Business
A number of topics that were discussed and moved on included:

1. Dairy West and the IHSAA agreed to move forward into their 41st year of partnership together, including the continuing of state sweatshirts for participants. The Idaho Air National Guard and AAA are also signed on for another year.

2. Tol Gropp, the athletic director at Timberline High School in Boise, has been named the president of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association, which is the national organization for athletic directors. Gropp is the first person from Idaho to ever serve as the national president.

3. The IHSAA and the NFHS Network agreed to a new 10-year contract during the December 2023 board meeting. In addition to that agreement, schools that have NFHS Pixellot cameras will be receiving a disbursement of money from the IHSAA according to the Idaho reimbursement plan.

4. The representation to the state soccer, volleyball, swimming, and football tournaments was approved as a final reading. In state soccer, the representation in the 6A classification for the 2024-25 and 2025-26 school years was flipped. The primary reason for this was due to a request from the 6A District I schools regarding a middle ground location for a play-in game and reasonable travel.

5. The representation to the state wrestling and basketball tournaments was approved as a first reading. The state wrestling representation was discussed at length regarding guaranteed berths vs. at-large bids. A survey will be sent out to athletic directors regarding their coaches preferences on at-large vs. guaranteed berths to the tournament.

6. 2A State Track representation was altered slightly due to an IHSAA error. There were schools in 2A District 3 that were counted as having a track program when they actually did not have a program, meaning that the representation was skewed for the 2A classification statewide. The board chose to rectify the error by giving District 3 the correct representation and create a statewide at-large berth using the berth they took away from District 3.

7. Coeur du Christ Academy, a small, private, Catholic school in northern Idaho, was approved as a full member of the IHSAA effective with the 2024-25 school year. They plan on playing football, volleyball, girls basketball, and boys basketball, and will be placed in the 1A classification.

8. A letter from the superintendents of District I was shared with the board, stating that they would like to board to look at the petitioning and classification process currently in use for team sports. The superintendents of these schools currently feel that the petitioning process is detrimental to northern Idaho schools and will limit their opportunities to compete for and win state championships. One of the primary figures of the letter was that schools who petitioned down are allowed to compete for district and state championships. They argue that if a team is petitioning down for competitive equity or to build up their program, they should not be eligible for district or state competition.

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