Obviously, the possible transfer legislation which heated up during Tuesday’s jam-packed Arizona Interscholastic Association Executive Board meeting is the big talker, full of arguments to be made on either side and plenty of details which will be decided upon quickly. It is and will be the big talker if/until pen is taken to paper (and even after).
But there’s some real-time trouble with the current AIA/MaxPreps power rankings that’s also being heeded. This time, it’s about forfeits and the effect (or non-effect) these have on various schools’ power rankings position.
Among several cases involving a couple different sports, look at what happened with Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe in girls soccer. The Thunder beat their Ahwatukee rivals in the first match of the power rankings schedule in late November, but quickly discovered it used an ineligible player (received a red card in the final match of the previous season, an automatic one-match suspension). The Thunder reported the violation and it goes down as a forfeit for both teams, which currently means the match is completely stricken from the power rankings records’ and calculation.
Since Mountain Pointe doesn’t get a “win” because of the forfeit, the Pride don’t receive any of those points toward its power rankings, nor does it receive any subsequent “strength of schedule” help from D.V. which (as of Tuesday afternoon) is No. 3 in Div. I rankings.
Also, none of Mountain Pointe or Desert Vista’s opponents this season lose or receive any extra weight in helping calculate their “strength of schedules.”
Mountain Pointe (No. 22 in Div. I) needs to get into the top 16 by the end of this week to make the state tournament, and the Pride have to win its final two matches to do so — even that might not be enough — so don’t get Pride coach Mark Wilson started about this situation, even though this was adopted recently from the previous accounts where forfeits did count as wins and losses in power rankings (though a different formula was used at the time).
Sensing a problem, the Executive Board has asked MaxPreps to run a few parameters and calculate different scenarios to see what kind of effects would exist between the current setup and if forfeits count as wins or losses (and opponents of those schools would receive residual effects, good or bad). Or if a team forfeits an entire season and is in the books at 0-12 (soccer), 0-18 (basketball or 0-10 (football), what effect would it have on that school’s opponents ranking?
Phoenix Maryvale vs. Glendale Ironwood in boys soccer could involve a forfeit as well from this season. So does Shadow Mountain vs. Arcadia in girls soccer, and Phoenix Carl Hayden forfeited its first four boys basketball wins this season because of an ineligible player.
With violations — big or small, intentional or inadvertent — seemingly on the increase, the AIA and MaxPreps are right to do their due diligence in exploring this issue and simulate all cause/effect scenarios because this involves all sports who use the new power rankings.
At this late juncture it won’t change anything for the winter season but could be for spring sports.
Remember, there’s another side to this when it comes to forfeits being treated as non-existent games or matches, and the rationale as to why it’s part of the power rankings setup from the start.
But sympathies still go out to Mountain Pointe girls soccer and any other schools/sports who might have made a sectional or state tournament this winter, but won’t.
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.