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MSHSL tackles controversial method of seeding state tournaments

A policy that has long bewildered high school hockey and basketball fans and sometimes angered coaches is being changed.

The Minnesota State High School League Board of Directors has approved a motion to seed brackets 1 through 8 in the boys and girls basketball and hockey state tournaments beginning in the 2025 state tournaments. Volleyball and football had already been approved to fully seed tournament fields. Class 6A football already seeds its 32-team field into four eight-team brackets.

Previously, the MSHSL chose five seeds for its basketball and hockey state tournament brackets, with the remaining three teams slotted according to a random draw. The league did it that way to avoid potential controversy, but it routinely drew questions from fans and supporters.

An example emerged from the seeding of the girls hockey state tournament in February. Minnetonka coach Tracy Cassano expressed frustration that her team, seeded No. 1, drew Maple Grove, the team she considered strongest among the three unseeded teams, for the first round.

"What benefit is there to being the No. 1 seed with this system?" Cassano said. "It's not fair to kids who worked hard all season to earn that seed."

The Board of Directors also agreed to call for a member school vote to amend the league's constitution regarding ninth-grade governance. Currently, ninth-grade sports are governed separately from MSHSL and are treated in similar fashion to club sports. Under MSHSL governance, ninth-grade teams would have uniformity in rules, officials, league guidelines and teams and athletes would come under the umbrella of league-provided insurance.

The board also approved:

* Changing the basket interference rule in basketball involving contact with the backboard.

* Removing uniform regulations for hat and headgear in Nordic ski racing.

* Clarifying language in its name, image and likeness (NIL) policy to protect the amateur status of participants and to make clear that NIL collectives are not allowed.

* Allowing an increase to the number of girls-only wrestling events during the season from four to eight, and allowing for two-day wrestling section tournaments when more than 10 teams are involved.