ROBBINSVILLE, N.J. - Sectional title games in boys' and girls' basketball will be held on neutral courts at area colleges starting in 2016, according to a plan forwarded this week by the NJSIAA basketball committee.
NJSIAA director Larry White said Wednesday the committee wants to implement the change in 2016 rather than 2015 to allow schools time to adjust schedules, especially with regard to the highly popular county tournaments in North and Central Jersey, as well as conference tournaments such as the Cape-Atlantic League's annual tournament.
White said area colleges such as Rutgers-Camden and Stockton would be considered as possible sites for the South Jersey finals in four groups in boys' and girls' basketball.
White also said that "larger" area high schools would be possible alternative sites if colleges were not available.
Under the plan, which still must be approved by the organization's executive committee, the state tournament would start on the final Saturday in February.
Two groups in the boys' and girls' tournaments would play that Saturday and then Tuesday and Thursday, with the sectional final the following Saturday.
The two other groups in the boys' and girls' tournaments would play Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with the sectional title game on Sunday.
White said groups would alternate start dates each year.
The plan calls for eight games to be held at a college site on the same weekend - a girls' doubleheader on both days and a boys' doubleheader on both days.
White said he has received numerous complaints since the NJSIAA moved sectional finals to the site of the higher seeded team six years ago. That has resulted in games with far more demand for tickets than seats in the gymnasium.
"I get calls every day," White said.
Transfer talk. After a lively debate, the NJSIAA executive committee voted down a proposal to change the transfer rules to require athletes who transfer to a non-public school or a public school in the choice program to sit out 45 days and also to miss the state tournament.
The proposal forwarded by Jefferson Township athletic director John DiCola was defeated by a 17-12 vote, with six abstentions.
DiCola indicated that he might seek signatures from officials at 20 schools to have his proposal placed on the ballot for vote by the general membership in December, as per NJSIAA rules.
In that case, a simple majority vote of the general membership would pass that proposal.
NJSIAA counsel Stephen Goodell said that such a rule would be "problematic" from a legal standpoint as it enforces different rules for non-public schools.
In addition, a rule change that impacts school choice would need to be approved by the state's Department of Education, which has been supportive of the program and is likely to look unfavorably on anything that discourages students from taking advantage of it.
White said the NJSIAA would form a committee to examine the issues of transfers for athletic advantage, especially with regard to non-public and choice schools.
Under current NJSIAA rules, a varsity athlete who transfers without a change of residence must sit out 30 days.
"The issue is people trying to beat the system," NJSIAA executive director Steve Timko said.
Baseball sites. The June 3 public state semifinals between the South and Central champions in baseball will be held at the following sites: Monmouth (Group 1), Rutgers (Group 2), College of New Jersey (Group 3) and Overbrook High School (Group 4).
The non-public sectional finals the same day will be held at Rider (South B) and Rowan (South A).
Rule changes. The executive committee passed on first reading two possible program changes: the creation of a Group C in the swimming tournament and making the last Wednesday in March the permanent start date for games in lacrosse.
Both proposals need to pass on second reading to take effect.