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Greg Lee: Colbrese encouraged by reaction

Mike Colbrese, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association executive director, reads high school sports blogs statewide.

It affords him another avenue in which to measure what people are saying and thinking about prep sports. He wasted no time checking out blogs after the WIAA Executive Board announced last Friday a significant restructuring of the state boys and girls basketball tournaments.

Colbrese was surprised by what he didn’t find. Absent from the blogs were outcries that what the WIAA did was wrong. He said the overall feedback has been supportive.

Perhaps the easy part is over for the WIAA. Now the heavy work begins in how the board will structure the regional tournaments for all classifications that will feed teams from the 16-team pools to the final eight that will gather at state tourney sites to determine champions. It’s a process that may not be decided until late July, Colbrese said.

Here are some items that resulted from Friday’s rep assembly in Renton:

•Yakima will take the most significant financial hit in the restructuring that calls for the 4A and 3A tournaments in Tacoma, the 2B and 1B tourneys in Spokane and the 2A and 1A in Yakima on the same weekend, March 3-5.

Under the old format, Yakima hosted three consecutive weekends of state tournaments.

Scott Spruill of the Yakima Herald-Republic reported that over the three consecutive weeks in 2009 and this year, “those events accounted for 10,600 hotel room nights locally with an estimated economic impact of $7.5 million each year.”

•Several newspapers reported that the change to staging the tournaments all on the same weekend will keep winter sports from overlapping into the start of spring sports. It’s Colbrese’s hope at some point to compress the winter season by another week to allow more of a transition into spring sports.

•Colbrese noted that he understands the perception that the board made a speedy decision regarding restructuring. But he said the changes have been discussed informally for three years. He said it needed to take place in conjunction with the reclassification cycle or the board would have had to hold off until the next reclassification in 2012-13.

•Rene Ferran of the Tri-City Herald reported that Moses Lake athletic director Loren Sandhop, a District 6 representative on the board, cast the lone no vote on the restructuring proposal.

“We’ve already built next year’s schedules,” Sandhop told the Herald. “And we hadn’t asked for any opinions from member schools. But the concern was that if we didn’t make the move (last Friday), it wasn’t going to happen for two more years.”

•The board also approved keeping the 4A, 3A and 2A state volleyball tournaments at Toyota Center in Kennewick and rejected a bid by the Everett Events Center to hold the tourneys starting in 2010.

The Herald reported that the state tourneys at the Toyota Center in Kennewick last fall lost $20,000. The WIAA is considering changes to the format or schedule.

•The board approved an amendment requiring a running clock in basketball when a team holds a 40-point lead or more in the fourth quarter.

•The board voted down an amendment to add boys and girls lacrosse as a sanctioned sport.