The Maine Principals’ Association voted Thursday to return to the two-thirds qualifying percentage for tournaments in sports that use Heal points.

Qualification had been 50 percent of the field for the last two years.

The vote was made at the principals’ spring conference at the Samoset Resort in Rockport.

Surveys were sent to athletic directors earlier in the year, asking their opinions. After reviewing the responses, the MPA’s interscholastic management committee endorsed the two-thirds plan. The principals’ vote was 44-9.

Percentages have varied through the years. It was 50 percent for years until open tournaments — every team making it — was approved 10 years ago.

That didn’t work; there were severe mismatches in early rounds and some low-ranked schools decided not to participate. A compromise of two-thirds was then adopted.

But then came the economic downturn and superintendents were concerned about extra transportation costs associated with more teams making the tournament. So the MPA adopted the 50 percent rule.

“It was actually found out that travel costs were more with 50 percent of teams making the tournament than with two-thirds,” said Thornton Academy Athletic Director Gary Stevens.

“With 50 percent making the tournament, Heal points are at more of a premium. There were some teams traveling long distances because teams in their area wouldn’t play them because they knew it would be a loss.”

Stevens cited Calais traveling to A.R. Gould in South Portland to play a basketball game.

Two-thirds making a tournament will take some pressure off to win in the regular season. Teams still will want to finish as high as they can to get a bye in the qualification round, but every game won’t be as important.

Also, the chance of a capable team being left out will be less.

“I think it gives our kids greater opportunity,” said Scarborough AD Mike LeGage. “Athletics is funny. You never know what’s going to happen during the tournament. This will give more teams a chance for postseason play.”

One policy that will stay the same is limiting teams to five non-countable dates during the season. The management committee recommended to keep the policy and principals voted 34-19 in favor.

Teams are allowed to have five dates with non-Heal point games. It’s dates, not games, so teams over the past two years have played two or three games a day in the preseason and during the Christmas holiday. The policy has put a crimp in holiday basketball and hockey tournaments. If a team makes the postseason, it is allowed another non-countable date.

It was viewed as an Eastern Maine proposal because those schools have a harder time scheduling exhibitions because of travel distance. Many thought the rule was made to even the playing field between East and West. Coaches in the SMAA and Western Maine Conference don’t like the policy.


Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at:

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