Football playoff changes pitched for 2020; Board of Control updates


BOONE, Iowa – Discussions over the number of qualifying teams in the Iowa High School Athletic Association’s football playoffs have been ongoing for over a decade, and another new proposal was brought before the Board of Control at Thursday’s regular meeting.

Two recommendations for 32 qualifiers per classification were made at the football advisory committee meeting on December 11. Both were proposed by the Iowa Football Coaches Association and approved by the advisory committee, and both would affect the postseasons for classes 3A, 2A, 1A, A, and Eight-Player.

The first recommendation for fall 2020 involved a nine-game regular season and five rounds of playoffs with six days between rounds. The Board of Control denied that proposal on Thursday, prompting the committee’s second recommendation which offered an eight-game regular season and five rounds of playoffs with postseason games remaining on Fridays until reaching the semifinals.

No recommendations were made for Class 4A, currently the 42 largest high schools in the state by enrollment. Both recommendations had the regular season starting with Week 1 on August 28. All classes currently have a nine-game regular season schedule with 16 playoff qualifying spots.

The Board of Control will wait until January’s meeting to take action on the recommendation with eight regular season games and 32 playoff spots per class, to allow the IHSAA to meet with Class 4A schools and further discuss football’s playoff qualifying issue.

“We appreciate the advisory committee’s recommendations and the work the committee has done to reach those recommendations,” IHSAA executive director Tom Keating said, “The board has decided to table action on playoff qualifiers in order to address all classes at the same time.”

The IHSAA’s football playoffs expanded from 16 qualifiers per class to 32 qualifiers per class in 2008. All classes returned to 16 qualifiers in 2016. The IFCA and football advisory committee recommended a reversal back to 32 qualifiers at the 2017 meeting, but the Board of Control stuck with 16 qualifiers and approved a proposal to add the Ratings Percentage Index formula for at-large qualification. No recommendations were made this month by the IFCA or advisory committee regarding the RPI or qualifying procedures.

Other recommendations from the football advisory committee that were approved by the Board of Control on Thursday: 

  • Allow the game clock to continuously run any time the scoring margin reaches 35 points or more, unless previously implemented exceptions (injury, score, timeout, score falls back under 35-point margin, etc.) occur. Previously, the continuous clock only began running during a margin of 35 points or more in the second half.
  • During the first two days of practice, permit blocking dummies, hand shields, sleds, and tackling rings to be used for contact.
  • Open up the statewide HUDL team video pool to coaches from all classes.
  • Create a recommended pregame protocol to get both teams on the field for the playing of the National Anthem in regular season, similar  to policy for postseason contests.

The next meeting of the Board of Control is scheduled for January 23 in Boone.


Board of Control updates ahead of 2020

An election, an appointment, and annual position changes has shuffled the Board of Control’s arrangement as 2019 comes to a close. The moves bring two new school leaders on to the board as detailed below.

  • Central Lee superintendent Andy Crozier was elected as the Southeast District’s representative in October. He is replacing Oskaloosa superintendent Paula Wright and attended his first meeting Thursday.
  • Amanda Whaley from West Branch is joining the Board of Control as an appointee from the Iowa Association of School Boards. Whaley will replace Greg Dockum, who recently concluded an eight-year run on Johnston’s school board and served on the Board of Control since 2017. Dockum was the IASB representative for the final time Thursday.
  • Officer duties for the Board of Control were passed in November, with Dr. Rod Earleywine of Sergeant Bluff-Luton now serving as chairperson, Barb Schwamman of Osage serving as vice-chairperson, and Brent Cook of Dubuque, Senior serving as treasurer. [Updated: Dec. 20]


Baseball recommendations approved for next summer season

The IHSAA’s baseball advisory committee met in November and proposed changes after a review of the 2019 regular season. The Board of Control approved all three recommendations: 1. Use the current dates for QuikStatsIowa checks as the time frame to report pitch count violations; 2. Allow team video recording beyond first and third base; 3. Designate the home team’s scoring book as the official pitch count at neutral site games. The first practice date for next season is May 4, 2020.


Experimental use of basketball shot clock granted for January event

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) has granted a request from the IHSAA for the use of a 35-second shot clock during a varsity basketball event to be held in Cedar Rapids on January 11. The IHSAA has asked the event’s organizers to collect and share data from the games, which will be counted as regular season contests, to better analyze the potential impact of shot clocks at the high school level. The IHSAA follows the playing rules of the NFHS. There is currently no allowance for shot clocks under NFHS rules.





Executive director Tom Keating, [email protected]

Football administrator Todd Tharp, [email protected]

Communications director Chris Cuellar, [email protected]