Section VI delays implementation of return to league based alignment for football

Contributed Story Posted 20 January 2020 at 4:57 pm

The Section VI Executive Committee met this morning to review the appeal filed by the Buffalo Public Schools (“BPS”) late Friday, January 17 relating to the January 3 decision by Section VI to return to league-based play for high school football beginning with the upcoming 2020-21 season, Section VI Executive Director Timm Slade stated this afternoon.

“Although the decision to return to league-based play resulted from a process that began in October 2019, Friday’s appeal marks the first instance where BPS has presented concerns to Section VI regarding this matter,” said Slade

“In its appeal, BPS identified a need for “clear guidance, feedback and input from critical stakeholders.”  Because scheduling efforts are already underway for the 2020-21 football season, the Section VI Executive Committee voted this morning to suspend any implementation of league-based play in order to allow for further communication, input and guidance with regard to this matter, while alleviating any disruption and uncertainty with regard to the upcoming football season” Slade added.

“As a result, Section VI high school football will continue under its federation-based alignment for the 2020-21 football season,” said Salde

“League-based play is the norm for the overwhelming majority of sports teams within Section VI, and more than 10 of the BPS’s other interscholastic sports teams continue to participate in league-based play within Section VI as they have for many years.  There have been long-standing issues raised by Section VI members about the negative impacts of the federation-based alignment for high school football, such as excessive travel time and costs, lack of consistent league rivalries and scheduling difficulties,” added Slade

Section VI President Adam Stoltman provided a further explanation of this morning’s Executive Committee decision:

“The decision to return high school football to league-based play was carefully considered and followed a transparent process through which all Section VI members were provided opportunities for input.  Returning high school football to league-based play would reduce travel time and costs for the 63 football teams in Section VI, and would also enhance league rivalries, increase the significance of games for playoff eligibility, foster increased attendance and facilitate long-term scheduling,” said Stoltman.

“Nonetheless, the Section values the perspectives and concerns that have been presented by the Buffalo Public Schools as a continuing Section VI member.  The Executive Committee believes that this morning’s action to delay any implementation of the return to league-based play will provide an opportunity to engage in on-going meaningful dialogue with the BPS, as well as the Section’s other members, and to ultimately ensure that a return to league-based play addresses the concerns of the BPS while enhancing the opportunities and experiences of the student-athletes who participate in high school football within the Section,” added Stoltman.

The proposed change would have seen the return of football as a league sport for the Niagara-Orleans League and Lewiston-Porter, which currently is a member of the Niagara Frontier League, had already petitioned to join the N-O for football only.

Today’s vote by the Section VI Executive Committee puts off any change back to a league alignment for football for at least a year.