By Josh Linehan
Capital Journal Staff
PIERRE — The implementation of soccer as a school-sponsored sport will continue to be delayed in South Dakota following a meeting of the South Dakota High School Activities Association on Wednesday.
South Dakota high schools were originally scheduled to begin playing soccer as a school sport in the 2010-11 school year. That process was delayed at the last SDHSAA meeting based on a request from the Eastern South Dakota and Greater Dakota conferences, which comprise most of the AA schools in the state.
South Dakota is the only state left in the nation that does not sanction soccer as a school sport.
Wednesday, the board took no further action on the motion to delay implementation and instead gave first reading to a motion to appoint an ad hoc implementation committee to be appointed by the SDHSAA executive committee with a mandate to hash out some of the funding, budgeting, scheduling and compliance concerns.
The motion passed 8-0.
"It was about what we expected," SDHSAA executive director Wayne Carney said. "The board took a cautious approach. That’s what we heard from the member schools and we responded accordingly."
Board member Terry Nebelsick, also principal at Huron High School, made the motion to form a committee comprised of superintendents, principals, athletic directors and coaches, along with non-voting members from the South Dakota Soccer Association, the governing body which currently oversees club and school-affiliated soccer in South Dakota.
Nebelsick said while he understood the concerns about implementation, he was looking for the SDHSAA to eventually adopt soccer as a school sport.
"I get very, very nervous at hearing the viewpoint that club level soccer is fine as it is," Nebelsick said. "At some point, I think, that argument gets turned around, and people say ‘If club sports are fine, what is the role of the activities association?’"
The new committee will present its’ findings to the board at a meeting in August, the earliest a start date for soccer as a school sport could be announced.
Carney said the formation of the committee didn’t make it impossible for soccer to still begin in the 2010-11 school year, but he did not expect it would.
"The board left that wide open," Carney said, noting the motion asked the ad hoc committee to report back to the board annually at the August meeting. "We’re certainly not ready to take a guess on that from our spot here."
A SDHSAA survey of schools showed about 15 schools who were set to add soccer in 2010-11, along with 15 who were considering the move, executive board member Bob Lowery said at the meeting. But that number was likely diminished after the concerns were brought forward by the ESD and GDC.
Activities directors from several schools spoke in favor of continuing toward making soccer a school sport in South Dakota, even with reservations about the current state of the economy and other concerns.At the end of preliminary discussions, board member Bob Sittig made a motion to postpone the implementation of soccer as a school sport indefinitely. But the motion was eventually withdrawn in favor of Nebelsick’s motion to form the new committee.