GHSA trustees move forward on plans for instant replay

The GHSA board of trustees met Wednesday and agreed to move forward on plans to use instant replay in the state football championship games.

Credit: Stan Awtrey

Credit: Stan Awtrey

The GHSA board of trustees met Wednesday and agreed to move forward on plans to use instant replay in the state football championship games.

THOMASTON — The Georgia High School Association’s board of trustees has set in motion a plan that could result in instant replay being available at the 2023 state championship football games.

The GHSA is expected to work through a checklist of issues and should bring a proposal to the organization’s executive committee at its meeting April 16-17 in Macon. Ideally the plan would be tested at the season-opening Corky Kell Classic at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and then used at the state football and flag-football games at the facility in December.

The issue became a hot topic this past season when a blown call in the Class 3A championship game gave Sandy Creek a touchdown, even though the runner wasn’t close to the goal line, and was instrumental in its victory over Cedar Grove.

“I think that anybody that saw that play would agree that the runner was short of the goal line,” GHSA executive director Robin Hines said. “We also can’t definitively say it made a difference in the ballgame, either. I don’t want to say that because there was still another play, that sort of thing. But, as always, we want to get it right if it’s at all possible, to start with where the technology is available in the championship playoffs, and certainly Mercedes-Benz has the ability to do that.”

GHSA associate director Kevin Giddens, who has done much of the legwork on the matter, said the main questions that must be answered involve how to implement the replay, how to determine which plays are reviewable, whether there will be a booth review or a challenge system, how to train the officials, and the cost of the additional officials and equipment.

“There’s a whole lot of things that go into it,” Hines said. “The general public doesn’t understand that we have rules to follow, and if they’re not there, we’re not just going to make it up on the fly.”

Some form of instant replay is used in more than a dozen states. Video review in Georgia would be used only in the state championship games. The National High School Federation does not allow for replay to be used in regular-season games.

While the new GHSA rule would be used only in the championship football games, it potentially could spread to championship games in other sports, depending upon the technology that is available.

“I’m glad we’re looking at it, and I think we’re going to figure it out,” said Steven Craft, the Fulton County director of athletics. “I like it that we’re approaching it as football-only at this time. Not everybody has the resources, but that is one area we can put the resources behind it to make sure we can do it.”

GHSA President Jim Finch also lauded the Cedar Grove community for the way it handled the disappointment of losing the football game. “The Cedar Grove coach, the players, the community, the school, all handled that with as much class and professionalism that I’ve seen in anything that happened like that,” he said.

The trustees also expect to have a report on the future of NIL (name, image and likeness) for GSHA athletes. More than 20 states currently have regulations in place.

“This is something we need to get ahead of,” Hines said. “We’ll be spending the next few months seeing what it looks like.”

Hines said Georgia’s plans would not allow for collectives, the groups that gather and disperse the funds, and would not allow players to use their connection to a school, its uniform, mascot or facilities.

“This would not be pay for play,” Hines said.

The trustees also heard a proposal from Craft that would eliminate or reduce the minimum seating requirement for football semifinals games. Fulton County had to move three games this fall because it didn’t have stadiums that met the requirement, and none of the games produced attendance to warrant the move. The board requested more pre-COVID data and will consider the matter in April.

The trustees passed a proposal that would allow a five-day period for tryouts for flag football, with the final period used as an official jamboree. The impetus for the passage was a need for additional training for officials.

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