GHSA unanimously approves video review for football championship games

Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz

MACON -- The Georgia High School Association’s executive committee unanimously approved the proposal for video reviews at the state football championships, but tabled a proposal to curtail middle school recruiting and set a target date for a name, image and likeness regulation.

There was no discussion during the general session regarding the replay rule. It was set in motion by GHSA executive director Robin Hines in January after the Class 3A championship game between Cedar Grove and Sandy Creek was settled when a runner was credited with a touchdown despite being tackled at least a yard short of the goal line.

The comprehensive guidelines for review will be tested during the Corky Kell Classic games at Mercedes-Benz Stadium this fall and be implemented for the state championship games.

“When the Cedar Grove-Sandy Creek situation happened, it was obvious that human error exists,” Jasper Jewell, director of athletics for Atlanta Public Schools, said. “But we had to do something to protect our student-athletes, as well as our coaches, because they deserve a fair shake and a fair shot. Everybody came together and agreed immediately that something needed to be done.”

The review will only be used in the championship games, not during the regular season.

The GHSA has created a list of the plays that may be reviewed. The video review official may stop a game at any time before the ball is put into play if there is evidence a mistake has been made and that the play is reviewable. The head coach will have two challenges during the game.

“We want to make sure we get the right results for the kids,” Steve Kraft, the assistant superintendent and director of athletics for Dalton Public Schools, said. “Especially in the state championship games.”

The executive board tabled a proposal that would have mandated a two-year “sit out period” for middle school students who attend a camp or combine at a school and transfers to a school that was represented at the event. There was general feeling among the committee that the proposal left too many questions unanswered and may have resulted in “unintended consequences.”

“This body has got to do something,” GHSA president Jim Finch said. “And the other thing is we’ve got to start policing ourselves. You need to call out people in your own regions, in your own buildings.”

A new proposal is expected to be ready for the fall meeting of the executive committee.

Hines said, “It is a problem and we need to address it. We’ll work on some things because we’ve got to do it.”

No proposal was brought forward regarding NIL, but Hines addressed the issue in his director’s report and said something could be expected at the fall meeting. There are 28 states who have established guidelines to deal with the issue.

Hines emphasized that booster clubs and collectives would not be permitted to create NIL deals under the high school regulations and that no agreements could include the use of school property or images.

“At some point we’re going to be challenged on this and we’ve got to be on the right side of it,” Hines said.

The executive committee approved several other items on its extensive agenda.

Football playoff seating: The requirements to host a football semifinal were reduced throughout all classifications. The matter was brought up at the Board of Trustees meeting in January by Kraft, then the Fulton County director of Athletics. Fulton County was forced to move two games to Lakewood Stadium in order to meet minimum requirement and then drew small crowds that could have been handled by the home stadiums at Hughes and Milton.

The new requirements are 4,500 for Class 7A and 6A (down from 6,000), 3,000 for Class 5A and 4A (down from 4,000) and 2,500 for Class 3A (down from 3,000). The requirements for Class 2A (2,500) and both Class A divisions (2,000) were unchanged.

Golf: The executive committee overwhelmingly nixed the unanimous proposal from the golf committee to move the season to the fall for the three largest classifications beginning with the 2024-25 school year. The other smaller classifications would have continued to play in the spring.

A proposal to change the season for all schools failed last fall. The smaller schools were opposed because it would remove a spring sport for girls and take boys away from playing football. It would also have taken a spring coaching supplement opportunity away from football coaches.

Safety: The GSHA implemented new guidelines for baseball, cross country, football, lacrosse, soccer and softball that mandates the use of WBGT (Wet Bulb Globe Temperature) readings at its events. The WBGT measures the effect of temperature, humidity, wind speed (and wind chill) and sunlight on participants and is used to determine exposure levels to high temperatures.

A new bylaw was adopted that requires schools to follow a five-step return-to-play protocol. A minimum of 24-48 hours of rest must take place before a diagnosis can be made and the athlete must receive clearance from a health care professional before resuming activities.