High school students, once the staple of the parks and recreation-sponsored adult basketball league, will no longer be allowed to participate.
The decision to ban high school players and those under 18-years-of-age was handed down last month by the parks and recreation board and department administrators, including director Bill Schwind.
Schwind said the decision was made for at least three reasons.
First, basketball has evolved into a contact sport, and adults competing with minors in contact sports leaves the individuals and the department open for liability.
"We want to minimize the possibility of that happening," Schwind said.
Second, the town offers the program as an adult recreation league and it is intended for older, more mature players.
Last season, some adult team members were seen sitting the bench and high school players dominating playing time.
"High school kids have both a structured program and intramurals that they can compete in, and leave the town league for adults," Schwind said.
Third, the P&R department wants to avoid situations similar to what occurred last year when a Valley-area high school varsity athlete played in a P&R adult league game while visiting Payson.
His participation was an infraction of Arizona Interscholastic Association rules and he was ruled ineligible to participate in the state tournament, which was won by his high school.
"He didn't get to play in Glendale Arena (site of the state tournament) and we don't want anything like that to happen again to kids," Schwind said.
Schwind and recreation specialist Charlene Hunt said they do not anticipate the decision to rule out high school-age players will water down competition or inhibit the number of teams that can be formed.
This year, the P&R department plans to continue to offer three divisions of play -- competitive, 30-years-and-older and recreational.
"There is a four-team minimum for all (three) divisions," Hunt said.
Players cannot participate in both the competitive and recreational leagues. They can, however, compete in one of the two and the 30-years-and-older league.
Registration for play in the 2006 edition of the hoop league began Jan. 3 and will continue through Feb. 1. Sign-up can be completed at the P&R offices located at Green Valley Park.
The entry fee prior to the deadline is $250 per team. If space permits, the department will accept teams after the deadline for a fee of $275. Games begin in mid-February.
At the conclusion of the regular season, a "March Madness" adult tournament will be held March 24 and 25.
Both recreational and open competitive divisions will be offered, provided a minimum of four teams sign up. Players cannot play in more than one division, and, like regular season play, high school students cannot participate.
Registration for the tournament began Jan. 3 and will continue until March 22. The fee is $100 per team before the deadline and $125 afterward.
For more information, call the P&R department at (928) 474-5242, ext. 7.