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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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WIAA to implement state format change, RPI system for seeding; area coaches mixed

WIAA executive director Mike Colbrese, left, visits the Spokane Arena, March 3, 2011 during the State B Championships. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
WIAA executive director Mike Colbrese, left, visits the Spokane Arena, March 3, 2011 during the State B Championships. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Four more boys and girls basketball teams will advance to state tournament sites in Spokane, Tacoma and Yakima beginning this winter.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association approved a state format change Monday. In conjunction with the format change is a new seeding system. A Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) system replaces the drawing of names out of a hat. Teams will continue to qualify for state through district/subregional play. The qualifiers will be seeded 1 through 16 based on the RPI system.

The tournaments will begin with a regional round with 12 of the 16 teams moving on the following week when play resumes on Wednesday with single-elimination games.

Reaction among area coaches is mixed regarding the changes, especially concerning the use of RPI for seeding.

“The coaches I have spoken to are very excited for the new format,” Lewis and Clark boys coach Jim Redmon said.

But Redmon and G-Prep girls coach Mike Arte believe Greater Spokane League teams may not benefit from an RPI seeding formula because GSL teams have just two nonleague games.

“Our league has been tough and competitive from top to bottom so with 25 percent based on (win-loss) record that would not play in our favor,” Arte said. “I am most concerned with the 75 percent RPI based on your opponents’ record and opponents’ opponents record. Our league mandates we play 18 league games. Other leagues play more nonleague games which would allow them to schedule teams that will challenge and have glossy win-loss records. I hope this new format is not to our disadvantage.”

Redmon agreed.

“The RPI system has many flaws,” Redmon said. “We are in a combo league and not everyone is in the state, so I don’t feel it is a fair way to rate teams. I know coaches that use this system in Oregon and they hate it. So I was surprised our state wanted to use it.”

The new format is not a 180-degree reversal to the old four day, 16-team format, but the committee charged with coming up with the new format received high praise from executive director Mike Colbrese.

“They did a great deal of work and it speaks loudly to the foundation of the decision and the decision itself,” Colbrese said.

Colbrese said the new format will allow about 500 more student athletes to compete in a state tournament atmosphere.

Colbrese said the WIAA will use to coordinate the RPI, beginning with the first week of the season and going through conclusion of the regular season. A 25 percent value will be given to a team’s win-loss record, 50 percent to an opponents’ win-loss record and 25 percent to an opponents’ opponents, Colbrese said.

Regional matchups seed 1 against 8, 2-7, 3-6, 4-5, 9-16, 10-15, 11-14 and 12-13. Teams seeded 1 through 8 have double-elimination protection. Just the winners of 9-16 matchups advance.

Winners of the 1 through 8 games (four teams) move on to the state quarterfinals. Losers of the 1 through 8 games will face the 9-16 winners in single-elimination the following Wednesday.

The quarterfinal games could feature rematches of regional games. An example of the new state bracket can be found at

“We know that there are some coaches who are not going to like this,” Colbrese said. “However, the vast majority of coaches who voted on the survey voted for this option.”

The WIAA estimates it will cost an additional $90,000 for the new format for the extra day rental of the Spokane Arena, Tacoma Dome and Yakima SunDome and other assorted costs.

“The board and committee are hopeful that the new format will in a sense create new energy for the state sites,” Colbrese said. “We hope that paired with the RPI system it will regenerate excitement and attendance.”

Colbrese said that the board will consider using an RPI system to seed other state tournaments but not this year.

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