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Board Synopsis December 3, 2020

Posted: Thursday, December 3, 2020 - 3:08 PM

Minnesota State High School League

Board of Directors Meeting Synopsis

League Office, Brooklyn Center and via digital platform

Thursday, December 3, 2020, 9 a.m.


  • Board President Blaine Novak called the meeting to order at 9:03 a.m.
  • Governor Appointee Dr. Julie Anderson was introduced as the newest board member.
  • Board member Matt Heier provided the reflection.
  • The Board of Directors approved by roll call vote the meeting agenda and the meeting minutes of Oct. 1, 2020
  • Dawn Gillman of Let Them Play Minnesota addressed the board and thanked them for the opportunities for students to participate in fall activities. She also asked on behalf of the Let Them Play Minnesota to provide opportunities during the winter season.
  • Board member Frank White shared the news of the passing of Jim Robinson, an officiating pioneer, an MSHSL Hall of Famer and the League’s State Coordinator of Basketball Officials.

Lobbyist Report

  • League Lobbyist Roger Aronson shared updates from the Legislature that included improved budget forecasts and the chair assignments for a number of committees.
  • The State Legislature will reconvene Jan. 5, 2021.

Legal Counsel Report

  • Legal Counsel Kevin Beck reported one pending case.

Executive Director’s Report

  • Executive Director Erich Martens reflected on the loss of Jim Robinson, a “pillar of the League and a friend to all.”
  • Reports from a number of recent organizational meetings were shared including The Principals Advisory group on Nov. 10, The MSHSL Foundation Board in late October and Nov. 11 and the Representative Assembly on November 17.
  • Reported that he and Board President Blaine Novak have been meeting with the superintendents association.
  • Jason Nickleby, MSHSL Coordinator of Officials, provided a report on the great work of officials through the fall season and the preparations for the coming winter season that have taken place.   

Executive Committee Report

  • The Board of Directors approved in a roll call vote the recommendation from the Audit and Finance committee to accept a $500,000 transfer from the MSHSL Foundation and allocate the funds in the following manner: $250,000 to assist regions with financial hardship and $250,000 to reduce membership fees to Class A and Class AA schools.
  • The Board of Directors approved the calling of a Financial Advisory Committee to be appointed by Board President Blaine Novak.
  • The Board of Directors approved by roll call vote the second iteration of the COVID-19 Return to Participation protocol form.

Action Items

9A: Projected Calendar 2020-2021/Return to Participation

  • The Board of Directors approved by roll call vote guidance and information documents for winter activities. These documents were created in collaboration with the League’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, the Minnesota Department of Health, activities advisory committees and other outside resources. These guidance and information documents are posted on the League’s website for coaches, school administrators and the public.
  • The Board of Directors approved by roll call vote a proposal to accept and adopt the scheduling models presented by the Return to Participation Task Force. That approval includes the requirement that winter activities when allowed by State guidelines. The earliest start date would be Dec. 21, three days after the scheduled expiration of Executive Order 20-99. Competitions could begin as early as Jan. 4. Within the approval, the Board of Directors supports the flexibility on the implementation of seasons within the parameters of state guidelines and League bylaws.
  • The Board of Directors approved by roll call vote a proposal that implements virtual state tournaments for Debate and One Act to be held in early 2021.

9B: Speech Rules and Policies

  • The Board of Directors approved in a roll call vote the recommendation of the Speech Advisory Committee on updated and proposed language in the Speech Rules and Policies.

9C: District Football Policy: Classification Process for Class Nine-Man teams

  • The Board of Directors approved in a roll call vote a modification in the classification method for Class Nine-Man football. Enrollment in Grades 8-11 will be used to accurately classify Class Nine-Man teams
  • District assignments will take place following the completion of competitive section assignment.


9D: Representative Assembly Date for 2021

  • The Board of Directors approved in a roll call vote to set Tuesday, May 11, 2021 as the League’s next meeting of the Representative Assembly.

Discussion Items

10A: Review of Representative Assembly Meeting, Nov. 17, 2020

  • League Executive Director Erich Martens shared an overview of the actions of the Representative Assembly meeting that took place on Nov. 17, 2020.

Bylaw amendments approved:


Bylaw 110, Semesters enrolled --- The Representative Assembly approved a proposed bylaw amendment that clarifies the practice and implementation of the bylaw that addresses the application process for additional semesters enrolled. The amendment adjusts the timeline that determines when a student may apply to the League for additional semesters, now allowing students to do so following a substantial disruption to their educational experience. Bylaw 110 maintains its language limiting participation in League athletics to 12 consecutive semesters beginning with a student’s initial entrance into seventh grade.


Bylaw 403, Cooperative Sponsorship of an activity by two more schools --- The Representative Assembly approved the amendment that clearly states that the geographic location of the sponsorship will be the geographic location of the member school with the largest Minnesota State High School League enrollment. The amendment also clarified the purpose of the bylaw and the timeline for review of existing cooperative sponsorships.


Bylaw 503, Girls Badminton --- The Representative Assembly approved a proposed amendment to increase the number of contest dates from 16 to 18. The increase in dates does not increase the maximum number of matches and is designed to assist schools whose facilities may not allow more than two teams to compete at the same location.


Bylaw 510, Girls Gymnastics --- The Representative Assembly approved a proposed amendment that allows a conference or division champion to schedule a 17th event to determine an inter-conference or intra-conference champion. This opportunity already exists in a number of other MSHSL activities.


Bylaw 520, Boys Volleyball -- The authors of this proposed bylaw amendment requested that the decision on adoption be tabled until the Representative Assembly meeting in May 2021. The amendment will be considered at the next regularly scheduled Representative Assembly meeting with the request for implementation to be in the spring of 2022.

10B: Progression of Decisions: Review Options

  • League Staff shared reviews of the season experiences and post season events for fall activities.
  • League Staff led a discussion on potential opportunities for winter state tournaments.  These will require flexibility in the scheduling and operations of the events.

10C: Region Assignment, Competitive Section, District Football Processes

  • League Staff shared a review of the process for compiling enrollment data and the dates for Competitive Section Placement and District Football.

Committee Reports

Eligibility Committee (Meeting held via virtual platform on Wednesday, Dec. 2)

  • The Board of Directors approved by roll call vote the Eligibility Committee meeting minutes as presented.

Audit/Finance Committee (Meeting held via virtual platform on Wednesday, Dec. 2)

  • The Board of Directors approved by roll call vote the financial statements from September and October, 2020.
  • The Board of Directors approved by roll call vote a revised 2020-2021 budget. The revised budget includes the transfer of MSHSL Foundation Funds and recognizes the contributions of sponsors for the current year as well as allocating funds for the holding of state tournaments.
  • The Board of Directors approved by roll call vote a League Staff recommendation to eliminate the registration fee of Fine Arts Judges for the 2020-2021 school year only. 

Marketing and Communications Committee (Meeting held via virtual platform on Wednesday, Dec. 2)

  • League Staff shared updates on office technology and website development including:
  • Construction of a Competitive Section portal
  • Work on the Transfers and Reviews portal.
  • Region Secretaries dashboards are active in website education.
  • League Staff provided an update on the streaming of activities as part of a policy waiver.
  • League Staff shared that the first-month review of analytics on the readership of the MSHSL Connect.
  • League Staff has a planned project to update League Public Service Announcements in written, audio and video formats.
  • League Staff shared a sponsorship update, including exploring opportunities with prospective companies.
  • League Staff shared an update on discussions with three sports marketing firms.
  • League Staff shared a recent Social Media initiative that promotes the registering of Fine Arts Judges.

Education and Leadership (Meeting held via virtual format on Tuesday, Dec. 1)

  • The committee welcomed new board member, Dr. Julie Anderson.
  • The League’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee met Nov. 20 with three items on the agenda: COVID-19 Return to Sports form, Emergency Action Plans/Anyone Can Save a Life and Access to Health and Safety resources on the League’s website.
  • Dr. William Roberts, chair of the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, provided the League with an updated iteration of the current COVID-19 Return to Sports. SMAC reviewed and adopted the recommendations to this form. the form was forwarded to the Executive Committee for their consideration.  
  • Anyone Can Save A Life, the League’s Emergency Action Plan program currently resides on a Medtronic server. Medtronic, has reached out to inquire if the League would like to begin hosting ACSAL. The SMAC believes in the great value in this program and believes it should be hosted on the website.  
  • The SMAC recommended providing member schools with health and safety resources on the League’s website and in a more prominent location. League Staff will be begin building these pages.
  • The InSideOut Initiative in Minnesota is on hold until school administrators have access to resume training and the implementation process. The Education Committee will make a recommendation about a possible timeline when they next meet. 
  • League Staff reported that no late fees are being assessed to officials and they continue to actively recruit officials.
  • The League is working with activities administrators and member schools on a process to monitor the eligibility of officials.


  • Board President Blaine Novak and Board Member Troy Stein shared reflections on Board Member Russ Reetz, who is leaving the board as a result of taking a new position as the Associate Principal/Activities Director at Eden Prairie High School. Reetz represents Regions 3AA and 4AA. Eden Prairie is in Region 6AA. The Region 3AA committee will provide a replacement by the end of December.
  • Board of Directors workshop: Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021
  • Next board meeting: Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021
  • Meeting adjourned at 12:44 p.m.


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Obituary for Jon Hersch, Hall of Fame track coach at Blaine and Champlin Park