According to the NJSIAA’s Handbook 70% of all competition must be against in-state opponents before the cut-off date. This is a rule for every sport in New Jersey. For high school girls’ and boys’ basketball this year that date was February 6, 2016. That means that before February 6th 70% of the games played had to be against teams from New Jersey. As long as a team had a record that reflected 70% in-state opponents by February 6th that team could play against out-of-state opponents for the remainder of their season until the state tournament stated. Therefore, there is no argument that states playing out-of-state opponents would prepare New Jersey teams better for the state tournament because teams can start the tournament under 70%. Teams just cannot enter the seeding under 70%.
The 70% rule came into effect to prevent teams from hopping the border and playing weak teams to pad their schedule. It was believed that if a team knew they were going to lose to local New Jersey opponents they may try to find weaker opponents in another state. This team could then return with a much better record to get an advantage for the seeding in the state tournament.
This absolutely may have been the case when teams were ranked based on their record. However, the state tournament seedings are now based on Power Point Records. Power Points are accumulated based on Quality Points, Group Points, and Residual Points. Quality Points means a school earns 6 points for winning and 0 points for losing. Group Points mean that a school earns 4 points for defeating a Group IV school, 3 points for defeating a Group III school, 2 points for defeating a Group II school, and 1 point for defeating a Group I school. Lastly, Residual Points are earned as a result of the progress from teams you played against. For every time a team you beat wins a game your team earns 3 additional points. If a team you lost to wins a game you earn 1 additional point each time.
Whenever a New Jersey school competes against an out-of-state opponent the Athletic Director of that New Jersey school has to contact the office of the school they are competing against. The Athletic Director finds out the enrollment number of students and then fills out a piece of paper that gets sent to the NJSIAA. The NJSIAA then uses that paper to determine the school size and distributes the appropriate Power Points. Therefore, on paper an out-of-state Group IV school is equal to an in-state Group IV school.
In addition to not having true bearing on the seedings, the 70% rule puts certain schools/teams in the state at a disadvantage. This is because only some teams in the state are in risk of violating this rule based on their schedule. Other teams throughout the state are never in risk of violating this rule because of the leagues they participate. In 2013 Paramus Catholic Football submitted a waiver requesting to be released from the 70% rule for their following football season. They made this request, “to alleviate scheduling and power points issues and provide relief to the public schools.” This waiver was granted to Paramus Catholic with a vote of 21-0. In 2015 Bergen Catholic, Paramus Catholic, and Don Bosco filed a waiver to be released from the 70% in-state competition rule because “no in-state schools want to play them so they can only go out of state to get games.” The waiver was extended to DePaul and St. Joseph’s because they would face the same dilemma. It was stated that, “These five schools would prefer to stay in-state and not seek games outside NJ borders, but it hasn’t worked out that way.” The motion was passed unanimously. One month later Raritan Bay Catholic put in a waiver request to be released from the 70% waiver rule as well.
These waivers are only good for one year and therefore have to be motioned again the following year if school wants to be pardoned from the 70% rule.
A motion should be made to discontinue the 70% rule for all teams based on the following:
- Power Points are being used to determine seeding for the state tournament. Therefore, the rule is outdated.
- A waiver has to be submitted every time a team wants to be excused from the rule.
- The teams submitting the request are not trying to gain an advantage. They would prefer to play in-state teams, but do not have enough in-state opponents and therefore must either compete against out-of-state opponents or have less games than everyone else.
- The waiver does not exist in the handbook and therefore needs to be requested per each school.
- The fact that the waiver needs to be voted on means that if the committee opts not to approve the waiver the school in need is in a bad position. Additionally, it could be viewed as bias if the committee votes for one school and not another.
- The NJSIAA has changed rules in the past to accommodate more teams into the state tournament, such as changing the over .500 rule.