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Sitka coaches ask ASAA for parity in travel costs

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SITKA, ALASKA
When Sitka’s was an independent team, Feldpausch said his travel budget came in at $60,000. Now that Sitka was part of a statewide, mid-size schools conference, he expected teams from elsewhere in Alaska to pay a fair share of travel to play conference games in Southeast.

“It’s crippling our program. We are building a program. We’ve had some issues in the past, but we are building. Locally, we’re even looking at getting a new turf field built, so the community is starting to buy into the program. We’re just asking for your assistance to make it a more fair and equitable opportunity for our program.”

Feldpausch said it was an “unwritten” rule that Southeast teams paid for the travel of teams from up north, as well as paying for their own travel to play those teams at home.

The problem is not unique to football. Sitka superintendent Steve Bradshaw said he thought schools on Alaska’s road system were unaware of the iniquities that had evolved as Southeast schools joined statewide conferences.

“The thing I find most difficult to accept in a state like this is when you do have conferences or provide conferences, that there’s not a home-and-home situation, and that the team doesn’t have to pay for it. That is the thing that has blown me away. Getting into a football league and still having to pay for 23 tickets for people to come here blows me away.”

Sitka High activities director Mike Vieira said he might have problems getting anyone to come to Sitka to play basketball in a couple of years. Beginning in the 2012 school year, ASAA has reclassified the traditional sports divisions. Sitka, Mt. Edgecumbe, and Petersburg will be the only 3A schools in Southeast beginning that year, and it’s possible that Petersburg may drop down into 2A, leaving a two-team conference in the town of Sitka.

“I anticipate playing each other four times a year. That leaves me 18 other games to find for my teams after that. If 4A schools are penalized for playing against 3A schools – even if they’re not penalized, and just nothing happens, that in itself is a penalty, because they could gain something from playing a 4A school.”

The penalty Vieira is referring to is the WPI, or “Winning Percentage Index” adopted recently in the 4A classification. WPI is used to calculate the relative strength of a team’s schedule, and its subsequent seeding at the state tournament. 4A teams, like Juneau and Ketchikan, would risk lowering their WPI’s by playing 3A schools like Sitka and Edgecumbe, even if the larger schools won.

Vieira suggested a combined 4A/3A WPI.

The ASAA board took no action on this or the other issues brought by Sitka coaches during the public portion of the meeting. The board functions through a proposal process similar to the state Board of Fisheries. The ASAA meeting in Sitka was scheduled to conclude at the end of the business day on Monday (4-18-11).
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