AIA power-points presentation method on Tuesday will be pivotal - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

AIA power-points presentation method on Tuesday will be pivotal

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Posted: Friday, February 17, 2012 5:30 pm | Updated: 12:16 pm, Sat Feb 18, 2012.

Any hope for massive outrage regarding the power points mess can be forgotten.

While engineers and math professors firmly believe there is a flaw in the system, it's not as easy to comprehend for the local coaches and athletic directors.

Instead of demanding any sort of change, most are having trouble wrapping their heads around the impact of any perceived mistake.

"I'm a (physical education) teacher," Desert Mountain boys basketball coach Todd Fazio said last week. "I don't get how the power rankings work. I don't even try."

With no consensus among the member schools, the onus is on the Arizona Interscholastic Association if it wants to change the power point formula in time for the spring season.

While the AIA may say it follows the directions of its member schools, it's actually the other way around.

On Tuesday morning, AIA Director of Business Media Brian Bolitho will present a modified formula to the Executive Board for discussion during its monthly board meeting. The new formula is the one introduced by John Carrieres, the local engineer who originally came across an alleged flaw in the old system which he believes unfairly rewards teams for playing in extra power point games regardless of outcome. The revised formula would remove the alleged flaw.

When Bolitho makes his presentation, there are two ways to go:

• He can neutrally present the current basketball state tournament power point rankings and an alternate version calculated by Carrieres, side-step the issue of whether a flaw exists, and instead send the message that choosing one formula over the other is a matter of personal preference.

• He can tell the board that he believes an inadvertent mistake was made to the power-point formula in the fall of 2010, and that the continued use of this current version will have a wide-ranging effect on playoff participants and seeding until it is modified.

While the issue has made small waves, it feels like the executive board members don't have enough information to make their own decisions without being heavily persuaded by this presentation.

"My suggestion would be for you to contact either (AIA Chief Operating Officer) Mr. Chuck Schmidt or Mr. Brian Bolitho at the AIA office to get some background on this issue," Kevin VanWinkle, an executive board member who acts as a liaison to Class 1A conference schools, said in an email. "I have not heard about the issue you bring up and am only aware of some concern surrounding power points being allowed into sectional tournaments." "... This is the only concern that I have heard mention of by the schools in the 1A conference. Other than that, I do not have any information for you."

AIA Executive Board President Derek Fahleson sided with the AIA in a conversation earlier this week.

"The word ‘flaw' means there's a problem," he said. "If it's not what everybody wants, I don't see that as a flaw. The word ‘flaw,' I think, is bad. I could say it's a flaw if my team doesn't get in."

Many people have used similar arguments. However, it doesn't get to the crux of the issue. There are always going to be philosophical differences on the best way to run power points because there are myriad stances dependent on the benefit to each school.

Carrieres' point is that the effects of the formula varied from what was originally presented.

In a meeting last week, Bolitho said there were four schools from Divisions I through III which missed either the boys or girls basketball playoffs under the current formula, and would have made it under Carrieres' version.

That may not sound like a lot, but once extrapolated over every sport in every season, it turns into dozens of missed opportunities.

While coaches are having trouble digesting all of the information, here is an easy example:

In the fall, the Prescott badminton team went 11-1 and missed the state tournament. Phoenix Shadow Mountain went 7-8 and made it among the top 16 teams.

The AIA claims the strength of schedule is what allows teams like Shadow Mountain to make it over Prescott despite the vastly inferior winning percentage.

Carrieres says Prescott is hurt by playing fewer games.

If Carrieres is correct and the formula is not changed, the spring will be very interesting because schools may purposely load up its schedules to gain an advantage.

Even though there are limitations on when and how many games could be added by a school, the adoption of a new formula would put an end to any "piling on."

But it remains to be seen if the AIA will push for a change or stay neutral on the subject.

"I look forward to hearing what Mr. Bolitho has to say on this whole deal, just to kind of give us his insight and input on where he thinks the concern is, if there is a concern," said Art Wagner, Higley Unified School District athletic director and vice president of the executive board.

Schmidt has said repeatedly that the AIA operates by following through on directives from the executive board and its member schools. While that may be true, it's crystal clear that the executive board holds the AIA's power-points opinion in high regard, and that it has clout to directly impact the process.

The AIA certainly has the means to change the power points system if it lobbies hard enough.

But if it does, there also comes the admittance that the system has been flawed for nearly two years.

Decision day is coming.

What direction will the AIA choose?

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