Shot clock photo

The WIAA Board of Control voted 6-4 in June to use a 35-second shot clock for varsity games in boys and girls basketball beginning with the 2019-'20 season. On Friday, the board voted to "revisit" the issue after a strong level of dissent was heard from athletic directors and principals around the state. 

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MOUNT HOREB — Wisconsin’s high school basketball coaches may not entirely agree.

But the state’s athletic directors believe the best way to stop a shot clock is with a full-court press.

WIAA executive director Dave Anderson made it clear during Monday’s area meeting that the Board of Control is fully authorized to revisit — and possibly even rescind — its June decision to implement a shot clock for varsity basketball games, starting in the 2019-2020 season.

Stung by what was perceived as a lack of input into the decision, many athletic directors are complaining that the new rule is an unfunded mandate that would cost at least $2,000 per gymnasium for the actual clocks, and more money on a continuing basis to pay for operators.

While a Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association survey showed that 80 percent of respondents backed the shot clock rule, less than 60 percent of the state’s head coaches (for boys and girls basketball) actually voiced an opinion.

And in a survey held after the Board of Control already had passed the change, 74 percent of respondents voted against the rule change.

Anderson said that during seven Area Meetings held around the state — the last took place Monday at Mount Horeb High School — the “critical response to the shot clock has been quite visceral. … I would describe the last six area meetings as being quite vocal in opposition.”

He estimated that about 80 percent of athletic directors who attended the meetings showed opposition to the change. On Monday, about 12 held up hands in support of the change, and about 30 held up their hands in opposition.

In addition to expenses, athletic directors worried that the rule change would negatively impact the game in other ways.

“Our officials are saying they … are not interested in officiating (games) with a shot clock,” said Southwestern athletic director Thomas Koeller.

“It also takes away a strategy … and it could widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots,” said Waunakee athletic director Aaron May.

“It will impact the game more if you do not have highly qualified people to run the shot clock,” Oregon athletic director Mike Carr said. “It’s the most important position at the (scorers’) table.”

Verona athletic director Mark Kryka said that while the basketball coaches’ association was involved in the lead-up to the Board of Control vote, the Wisconsin Athletic Directors’ Association was not consulted.

“That’s my failure,” Anderson said.

A Board of Control representative said the rule change would be discussed again at the next Board of Control meeting, set for Oct. 6. The Board could decide to reconsider the change, which would lead to more lobbying and fact-finding before the Board would then vote to revise, rescind or retain the rule at its December meeting.

“If you haven’t put in an order (for shot clocks),” don’t do that right now. Wait until October or December,” Anderson told the athletic directors.

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Wisconsin State Journal prep sports editor Art Kabelowsky has traversed the state to cover sports while working for daily papers in Fort Atkinson, Racine, La Crosse, Milwaukee and Baraboo.