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Shot clock

STEVENS POINT — The WIAA Board of Control hit the snooze button on Friday, rescinding its plan to bring a shot clock to Wisconsin high school basketball.

By a 7-3 vote, the Board reversed its June decision backing the implementation of a 35-second shot clock for boys and girls basketball, which would have started with the 2019-2020 season.

Championed by a strong lobbying effort from the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association, the Board of Control voted 6-4 in June to advance a plan that would have made Wisconsin the ninth state to use a basketball shot clock.

After the June vote, the board soon learned that its vote had caught some school administrators by surprise — especially once they began to add up the costs to implement the new rule.

A conservative estimate — figuring on a $2,000 cost for the hardware and a $25-per-game payment for a clock operator for each of 22 home varsity (boys and girls) games — set the total cost of the first year of the shot clock at $1.25 million, spread among the 490 WIAA schools that offer basketball.

A majority of state coaches — and, of course, athletes — stand in favor of the shot clock. However, athletic directors and other school administrators — those who have to pay for the additional equipment and additional personnel — stood squarely against what at least one called an unfunded mandate.

At the WIAA’s series of area meetings in the fall, attended mostly by athletic directors and other administrators, the sentiment was loud and strong against the shot clock.

During an area meeting in Mount Horeb, for instance, WIAA executive director Dave Anderson went so far as to tell administrators that if they hadn’t already purchased shot clock equipment, they should hold off on their purchases.

While some prominent coaches, including Madison Memorial’s Steve Collins, oppose the shot clock, most coaches are in favor. Jerry Petitgoue, longtime executive director of the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association and a speaker at Friday’s meeting, remains a leader in the push to change the rule. Last spring, WIAA basketball coaches’ advisory committees voted, 12-2 and 15-0, in favor of the change.

But Madison Edgewood athletic director and basketball coach Chris Zwettler said that when he surveyed state athletic directors, 76 percent of those who responded (including himself) stood against the change.

Nothing about the Board’s decision on Friday will keep the coaches’ association or motivated board members from making another run at the shot clock in the future — although a motion to delay implementation of the shot clock until the 2020-2021 season also was voted down, 6-4.