BOONE — The Iowa High School Athletic Association’s Board of Control approved changes to football playoff qualifying during its monthly meeting Wednesday.
Teams will also be allowed to play out-of-state border opponents beginning in 2018 and classifications and new districts for the next two years were approved at the meeting.
The number of regular-season games and playoff teams per class will remain unchanged despite a recommendation from the Iowa Football Coaches Association and playoff advisory committee to return to a 32-team postseason field in classes 3A, 2A, 1A, A and 8-player and 24 teams in Class 4A.
“Player safety is the number one priority, and we are also committed to playing early round postseason games on Friday nights,” said IHSAA executive director Alen Beste. “Keeping 16 qualifiers per class allows for maximum recovery time between games and maintains high school’s Friday night tradition.”
Under the new format for playoff qualifying, only the district champion or teams tying for a district championship receive automatic qualification. All nine regular-season games will count toward qualification, and the 17-point district tiebreaker will be eliminated.
Remaining at-large qualifiers will be determined by a Ratings Percentage Index formula that uses win-loss percentage (37.5 percent), opponents’ win-loss percentage (37.5 percent) and the win-loss percentage of the opponents’ opponents (25 percent). Classification differences between non-district opponents do not affect the RPI.
“Our goal is to have the best 16 teams in each class qualify for the playoffs,” said Beste. “We believe we get closer to that goal by having only district champions as automatic qualifiers and the remainder of the qualifiers determined by their success and the success of their opponents and other successful teams.”
Revised districts allow all classes to add non-district contests and reduce district travel.
Class 4A will include 42 teams in seven six-team districts with four non-district games per team.
Classes 3A, 2A and 1A feature 54 teams in nine six-team districts with four non-district games.
Class A is made up of 62 teams. Eight districts will have six teams and four non-district games, while two districts will have seven teams and three non-district games.
In 8-player, which includes 65 teams, there will be seven districts with eight teams and two non-district games and one nine-team district with one non-district game.
Final classifications and district assignments were expected to be announced Thursday.