Aia Rule Could Mean Less Practice For Longhorns

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The governing body of Arizona high school sports is considering a rule that would prohibit the amount of time coaches can work with their teams in the off season during the school year.

If the Arizona Interscholastic Association proposal is passed, activities like spring football, off-season wrestling and participation on club teams could be curtailed.

Payson High School athletic director Dave Bradley said the AIA proposal is directed more at the larger 5A metropolitan high schools where club teams and off-season activities often restrict student/athletes from participating in more than one sport.

As an example of how this would affect Payson, if baseball coach Teddy Pettet wanted to host a fall clinic, it could be an infraction of the rules. Weekend camps would also be outlawed by the proposed rule change.

Because the proposal is in early planning and study stages, it’s unclear what ramifications any change would have on coach Dave LaMotte’s off-season wrestling program.

During the spring months, LaMotte conducts a USA Wrestling program that has local athletes competing in freestyle and Greco-Roman tournaments around the state.

LaMotte also coaches his athletes in national tournaments.

Any rule change could prohibit LaMotte from working with his athletes after the wrestling season ends in February.

Prep sports that would take a big time hit from the proposal would be volleyball and basketball programs in metropolitan Phoenix and Tucson. Those programs depend on developing their athletes through club programs in the off-season.

AIA officials say the proposal is being studied because standards need to be put in place to insure a level playing field for all teams in all sports.

AIA officials also contend that if off-season coaching has limits, coaches will be relieved of many of their year-round responsibilities.

Although Payson is a small 3A high school, many of the varsity coaches choose to work with their athletes year round to ensure their teams remain competitive.

When Payson High moves to the 4A ranks next school year, the competition will be even greater, which could result in Payson High coaches shouldering even more burdens.

The AIA has sent the proposal to all athletic directors in the state. After an AIA ad hoc committee studies the proposal, it will submit its findings to the AIA Executive Board Dec. 9.

The executive board would then have three options. It could send the proposal to the legislative council as is, send it with changes, or abandon it completely.

For the proposal to become law, two-thirds of the legislative council would have to approve it. If passed, it would go into effect at the start of the 2003-04 school year.

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