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WIAA Membership To Vote On Multiplier

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Eau Claire, Fall Creek (WQOW) -- The WIAA's annual meeting doesn't usually generate a whole lot of media interest, but this year figures to be different.

Wednesday, the membership is scheduled to vote on an amendment that would multiply the enrollment of all non-public schools by a factor of 1.65 for tournament placement.

The multiplier proposal would certainly change the landscape of post-season play in the state. Each school has a slightly different view on whether a multiplier is needed.

The proposal is seen by a faction of the state as a way to level the playing field between private and public schools.

"If you look at the membership of the WIAA, 17% are religious or independent -- private," says Regis Catholic Schools president Mark Gobler, "and somehow there are folks out there that think they should only win 17% of the state championships. The facts don't lie, it's almost 36-38% in boys basketball, mainly in divisions three, four and five."

"Should Fall Creek be playing Racine for the state championship?," asks Fall Creek athletic director Brad LaPoint,  "remove the fact that the enrollments are the same, the communities are on two different planes, right? So, is there some way to bring about more of an even landscape that we can get that competitive nature back?"

What would the change mean?  In basketball, the 1.65 multiplier would move Regis enrollment up from 249 to 410, moving the Ramblers from Division 4 to Division 3.  In football, Regis would move up two divisions, from Division 6 to Division 4, while Fall Creek would drop down to Division 6.

Immanuel Lutheran athletic director Mark Kranz says the multiplier proposals would be a solution to a problem that does not exist.

"In the WIAA handbook, it mentions its purpose," says Kranz, "and its purpose is to promote uniformity in the standards in interscholastic athletic competition. It seems to me a multiplier would take away from the uniformity of athletic competition."

"In state wrestling," Gobler says, "there have been over 660 state wrestling champs, five from independent schools. So it varies from sport to sport."

Gobler, who is a former Luck H.S. administrator and a former member of the WIAA Board of Control, thinks the issue goes beyond wins and losses.

"I do think some of the schools proposing the multiplier have a point," says Gobler, "it's really a rural versus urban area."

Fall Creek boys basketball coach Rick Storlie agrees -- saying schools from larger communities have better opportunities than rural schools.

"When you're talking about an urban setting there is a lot of situations of more gyms available," Storlie says, "so you have an opportunity to play in other types of leagues and different things to develop the game."

This is not the only petition to come before the WIAA since public and private schools merged in 2000 -- but it is the first time such a measure has come up for a vote.

"I think that that door has been slammed so many times in the membership's face that they feel like this is our opportunity to do something," says LaPoint, "and it wouldn't surprise me if many school districts in the state of Wisconsin seize the moment."

"On Wednesday, we are sending someone to vote no," Kranz says, "and I hope that's the way the vote goes."

"I've been to 20 annual meetings," says Gobler, "this one is going to be tight to get a seat, so I'd get there early."

There's also another amendment up for a vote at the WIAA annual meeting that would give all responsibility for conference formation and realignment to the member schools.

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