By Phil Anastasia
The NJSIAA took a step on Wednesday toward creating a non-public tournament in field hockey.
The organization's executive committee unanimously approved on first reading a motion to create a Non-Public North and Non-Public South sectional tournament.
If the motion is approved on second reading at the organization's monthly meeting in February, the change would go into effect for the 2013 season.
"The publics have been asking for this," said NJSIAA associate director Kim McGraw-Cole, who oversees field hockey. "It's an equalizer."
Gloucester Catholic athletic director Pat Murphy, a member of the executive committee, said the change would be positive for the sport.
"It would create fewer teams (in each section) and create more opportunities," Murphy said.
Since the creation of the field hockey tournament in 1971, nobn-public and public teams have been grouped together by enrollement. Non-Public powers such as Oak Knoll of Union County as well as Camden Catholic, Bishop Eustace and St. Joseph of Hammonton have won Group 1 and Group 2 titles in recent seasons.
"There's been some concern on the part of the public schools as far as the success of programs like Oak Knoll and St. Joe's (in Group 1)," McGraw-Cole said.
McGraw-Cole said Non-Public North and Non-Public South each likely would have around 14 or 15 teams. The two sectional winners would meet for the Non-Public state title.
The fifth state champion would create an extra round for the Tournament of Champions. McGraw-Cole said the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds, as determined by a committee, would meet in a play-in game, with the winner playing the No. 1 seed.
Track change. The executive committee also approved on first reading a motion to change the team scoring system at the track and field state championships.
Under the proposal, only the top two teams in each sectional would be eligible to score team points in the state group championships. Although athletes from every school would be considered for individual titles, only athletes from the eight schools that finished in the top two in each sectional would be considered in team scoring.
So an athlete from a team that finished in the top two in the sectional could finsih 6th in his event at the state meet and still earn 10 points for his team if the five finishers ahead of him represented schools that did not finish in the top two in sectional meets.
"The track committee felt this was a way to determine the strongest team for the team title," said NJSIAA associate director Don Danser, who oversees track and field.
New Start Date. By a vote of 17-5 with two abstentions, the executive committee approved a proposal by the Big North Conference to allow schools the option of starting the 2013 fall season on Friday, Sept. 6.
Previously, the NJSIAA had announced that the fall season for all sports except tennis, which starts a few days earlier, would start on Thursday Sept. 12.
The change also impacts the 2014 fall season as schools will have the option of starting that season on Friday, Sept. 5.
Football teams would be allowed by start the season on the earlier weekend, if both schiools agree. That would create a bye week later in the season.
If teams in any sport elect to start the season on the earlier weekend, their first date of preseason practice also would move back to Aug. 12.
Winter Tickets. The NJSIAA announced that the office of the Commission of Education has informed the organization that it can charge $8 for adults and $2 for students and seniors at the boys' and girls' basketball Tournament of Champions final at the Izod Center and $10 and $3 for the hockey state finals at the Prudential Center.
The NJSIAA had been allowed to charge $10 and $5 at both events last winter.
Tickets for the state wrestling championship at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City will be $10 for adults and $2 for students and seniors. But the NJSIAA will receive just $9 and $1 from those sales as Boardwalk Hall takes a $1 surcharge from each ticket sale.
Contact staff writer Phil Anastasia at email@example.com or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.