NCHSAA board approves smaller 1A playoff field, changes to seeding process

Published 11:50 am Thursday, May 4, 2017

When Polk County begins postseason play next year as a 1A school, it will do so under a new set of criteria approved Wednesday by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s Board of Directors.

At its annual meeting, the NCHSAA board approved two significant changes that will affect the 1A playoff process beginning with the 2017-18 school year. The first is a reduction in the number of playoff berths available in six sports – baseball, basketball, football, soccer, softball and volleyball. The current 64-team bracket will become a 48-team bracket at both the 1A and 4A ranks beginning next season.

The board also approved the use of MaxPreps’ computer rankings to determine at-large playoff qualifiers and seedings for all teams in a one-year trial.

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Conference champions will still be seeded first, with all others then seeded thereafter as has been the case during the 2016-17 school year. But instead of using winning percentage for that seeding, the computer rankings will be used.

An NCHSAA representative said full details around the MaxPreps-guided process will be released later this week.

The reduction in 1A and 4A berths comes in response to the upcoming realignment, in which member schools approved placing 20 percent of state schools in the 4A ranks and 1A ranks and 30 percent in 2A and 3A classifications. With fewer schools competing at the 4A and 1A levels, the board opted for a similar reduction in playoff berths.

A 48-team field means 16 teams will receive first-round byes. The NCHSAA is expected to soon announce more details around how those will be handled.

The board also approved Wednesday a measure to return dual team wrestling and tennis playoffs to predetermined brackets rather than seeding schools.

Among other items approved Wednesday:

* Student-athletes will now be allowed to transfer one time after their ninth grade year without having to sit out a full year if both school districts involved agree.

* In-season dead periods, during which coaches are not allowed to hold skill development sessions with players, were reduced from six to three weeks. The board also dropped the May dead period for football and all girls sports, but did add a dead period during the final 10 days of the school year.


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