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    MSTCA, MIAA continue dialogue on postseason track meets

    FRANKLIN — The state track coaches and the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association are in agreement on at least one point: How do they run better, more efficient, and more rewarding track meets in the postseason?

    In other words, the best possible experience for the student-athlete, coaches, and spectators too.

    All agree, they need a road map for a vibrant future.


    In a two-hour, back-and-fourth session Thursday morning, at times spirited, and overall constructive, Brookline athletic director Pete Rittenburg, fellow track and field/cross country committee member Jim Hoar, and MSTCA officials Frank Mooney (Seekonk) and Rick Kates (Hingham) presented their concerns to the MIAA’s Tournament Management Committee.

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    It was the latest sitdown between the state association and track officials to address issues initially prompted by MIAA financial data revealing that track and field/cross-country had lost $156,000 in 2017-18 despite generating $196,680 in revenue through fees.

    That, said Mooney — who has coached track and field at Seekonk High since 1967 — created a “firestorm.”

    In mid-April, the MSTCA sent out a letter to coaches, parents, and athletes, stating that it was scheduling its own postseason meets, going head-to-head with the MIAA on the last weekend in May and the first in June.

    Two weeks later, a lengthy meeting between Mooney, Wellesley principal Jamie Chisum, chair of the track & field committee, Bill Gaine, MIAA executive director, produced a temporary truce, with the MSTCA and MIAA working together on the upcoming state meets.


    Wednesday’s face-to-face continued the conversation.

    “It was another step to hear what we had to say,” said Mooney, who felt in the past, “too many proposals sat on the floor, not going anywhere.”

    From fall to spring, the MSTCA runs 40-plus meets, and at a profit.

    Their four-pronged list started with “Recognition,” acknowledging the MSTCA’s facility relationships with the Reggie Lewis Center (indoor track) and the Wrentham Developmental Center (cross-country), and continued with “incentivizing” schools to host spring tourney events and enhancing the experience for stakeholders.

    Rittenburg made a strong pitch for the proposal of a Finance Advisory Committee between the MIAA and the MSTCA, and sharing numbers. The conversation continued with the high price of T-shirts at state events, and generating more revenue, more prominent medals for athletes, increasing compensation for officials at meets, live-streaming real-time results, the necessity of eight-lane track facilities, and the evaluation of tournament directors, all part of 15 bullet points.


    “We think that there is a serious image problem,” said Kates.

    TMC chair Jim O’Leary assured all that track & field “was not losing money,’’ he said. “It’s part of the budget.”

    But the process will start with a full, detailed proposal to the TMC in the near future.

    “It’s in everyone’s best interest to have a strong partnership,” he said. “We needed to have this discussion today.”

    The track & field committee convenes again June 11. Stay tuned.

    Two other items of interest from other business:

     Following a motion by Burlington AD Shaun Hart, and responding to a clarification from the basketball committee, the TMC voted, 10-3, that all regular season games will be counted in the event of a tiebreaker for tournament seeding, including exclusion games, but excluding endowment games. Also, the committee approved, 10-3, to remove “most wins” from the tiebreaker equation, and sticking with head-to-head competition, winning percentage against common opponents, league champion, and a coin flip.

     Addressing site policy, the TMC approved, 11-0, that the sectional semifinal and final rounds will be played at the possible sites (which will be listed via a link on miaa.net) to be procured by tournament directors. If the site is that of a lower seed, then every consideration will be made by the tournament director to find an alternative site. A motion that higher seeds “will never” be held at a lower seed was defeated, 6-5. And a key point, noted by Hart, “is about mentoring the tournament directors about the nuances of their job.”

    Because of the length and depth of the meeting, a handful of topics, including reviewing feedback from a statewide tournament proposal, were tabled to the June 7 meeting.

    Craig Larson can be reached at craig.larson@globe.com. Follow him at Twitter @GlobeLars.