IHSAA Mulls Limits for Offseason Contact | Athletic Business

IHSAA Mulls Limits for Offseason Contact

A rules-change proposed at this year’s spring area principals meeting was brought up for further discussion at the Indiana High School Athletic Association executive committee meeting earlier this month.

The proposal seeks to answer the long-debated question: how much contact should be allowed between coaches and student-athletes for practice and training purposes during the off-season?

The proposal up for consideration sets clear dates and guidelines for no-contact periods during the school year.

If implemented, coaches would be allowed to work with more than two athletes at a time during the off-season, but there would be a 28-day no-contact period at the end of each season, as well as a second four-week no-contact period at some point while school is in session.

Under the current system, coaches are limited to working directly with only two student-athletes at a time, in an open-facility setting, three times per week but at any point during the school year.

IHSAA commissioner Bobby Cox told the INDYSTAR that the proposal parked some controversy, saying, “There are conflicting philosophies depending on the sport and school.”

According to Cox, the recent discussions served to simplify the current system and to make it easier to enforce, while addressing the long-held belief that students need a break from practicing.

“We finish the season and have them right back into open facility. Maybe we should let them leave one sport and try out for another sport and create some multi-sport opportunities,” he said.

The new proposal drew the most serious discussion of any of the suggestions brought up in the spring meeting, as well as the most support: 43 percent of the IHSAA membership approved of the rules-change.

However, it also received some adamant critique. One opponent to the proposal, football coach Mike Kischner of Ben Davis believes that athletes who want to keep practicing will simply go to a personal trainer instead of a coach, resulting in an unfair advantage to families with more personal resources.

 “We’re already fighting some of the outside influences on our kids,” Kirschner told the INDYSTAR. “I don’t think it’s healthy for the sport.”

Cox said Kirschner was not the only voice raising concerns about limited contact. “We’re not going to kill (the proposal) but it needs some more work,” he said. The IHSAA will continue to seek feedback on the rules-change.

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