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WIAA grants Rainier Beach request to play in national tournament

***UPDATE: The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) Executive Board has granted Rainier Beach’s request to compete in the  2014 Dick’s Sporting Goods High School Nation Tournament, which takes place April 3-5 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

The board had to grant a waiver for rules that limit the number of games played, out-of-season regulations and competing against teams not members of a state association.

“This isn’t about Rainier Beach; we’re happy to be the ones who basically blaze the trail for this, but this is good for Washington, period,” head coach Mike Bethea said. “People know Washington is on board. We know what great football programs we have, now this paves the way for teams like a Bellevue and all our good baseball teams. So I think this is good all around for Washington athletics.”

The board listened to a case presented by Rainier Beach during a teleconference Wednesday afternoon before deliberating and then voting. This was the first time the school had issued a request, as it was separate from a complaint filed in court Tuesday by two parents of student-athletes.

“Number one, the board listened to the rationale from the school by saying, ‘You know what, this is after the season, it’s actually seven months before the start of next basketball season,’” WIAA executive director Mike Colbrese said. “Any advantage that would be gained through participation in this event would be diminished … because of what happens during the summer. So there’s really no advantage, disadvantage there.”

The school also said it was willing to restrict contact between the coaches and players, and Rainier Beach will be limited to 10 practices between the end of the state tournament on March 8th and the start of the national tournament. Furthermore, only the 12 varsity players will be able to practice during that time.

Rainier Beach will also work with the tournament so it will not face prep schools that are not part of state associations. The Vikings will be able to face schools that are not part of a state association, but are sanctioned to play against those that belong. Colbrese said if a situation arises where Rainier Beach is forced to play an unsanctioned team, a decision regarding the matter will be made at that time.

“The school sold the board on how to make this work,” Colbrese said.

The WIAA executive board has also determined it will form a special committee to more thoroughly understand about how parameters will be set for similar instances in the future.


Here is the official release from the WIAA:

RENTON, Wash. – The WIAA Executive Board granted the request of Rainier Beach High School to allow the Rainier Beach boys basketball team to compete in an invitational basketball tournament in April.  The Board made its decision during a Wednesday conference call.

The three WIAA rules waived during the conference call were out-of-season rules involving the school and its coaches (17.50), authorized contests (17.14.0), and contest limitations (17.15.0).

WIAA Executive Director, Mike Colbrese, indicated that the request from the Rainier Beach High School administration included rationale for a wavier of each of the WIAA rules that convinced the Board that a waiver was appropriate.

“The Board realizes this will take the Association down a new path,” Colbrese stated.  “A special committee has been formed to discuss the parameters for teams participating in events similar to this.”


Rainier Beach is making appealing to the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) Executive Board on Wednesday to reverse an earlier ruling and allow it to play in a tournament that crowns what some consider the national high-school boys basketball champion.

Current WIAA rules prohibit a member school from participating in the 2014 Dick’s Sporting Goods High School Nation Tournament, which takes place April 3-5. The Executive Board would have to grant a waiver for rules that limit the number of games played, out-of-season regulations and competing against teams not members of a state association.

Rainier Beach is making its case via a teleconference to board members throughout the state at 1 p.m., who will then vote. A simple majority would allow the Vikings to participate.

“When any party makes a request to the board or appeal to the board, they have an option to be involved so they can make their plea,” WIAA executive director Mike Colbrese said.

In a separate motion, two parents of student-athletes at the school filed a complaint Tuesday in Superior Court of King County regarding the earlier WIAA ruling. A news conference was held outside Rainier Beach High School Wednesday morning, where coach Mike Bethea, school-board member Betty Patu, King County Councilman Larry Gossett and attorney David Otto spoke in favor of letting the team participate in the tournament.

“I absolutely believe that we would be much better off and people in Washington state would be quite supportive if they provide this opportunity to this team and people knew the facts,” Gossett said.

The tournament originally reached out to Colbrese on Feb. 7, extending an invitation to Rainier Beach if the Vikings win the state tournament and remain undefeated. If Rainier Beach accepts the invitation, the tournament would give both the school and the WIAA $10,000 and cover costs for the trip. The national tournament is scheduled at Madison Square Garden.

The Executive Board met via teleconference on Feb. 13 and decided not to grant a waiver for Rainier Beach to play in the tournament. Otto told Colbrese that if the board didn’t reverse its decision, he would file suit.

“We have to distinguish that the school is not filing the suit, it’s the parents,” Colbrese said.

Colbrese also said that most teams participating in the tournament are preparatory  schools that do not belong to state associations.

“I think a lot of has been made that this is a national championship,” Colbrese said. “It’s really not. They can’t call it that because that moniker is trademarked by our National Federation of State High School Associations. It’s an invitational based on the rankings by USA Today, and if a team wins it’s state title. Most of the schools that are involved with this (tournament) are … not schools that are involved in state associations because they don’t follow the eligibility rules.”

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