The annual Warren County Tip-Off Basketball Tournament is undergoing a makeover.
The games will still count, but there won't be a tournament winner, according to the district's Supervisor of District-Wide Athletics and Co-Curricular Activities James Miller.
The Warren Area High School girls team has won the event the last two years and the boys team has won all eight tournament titles, having never lost a game in the tournament that dates back to 2004.
Miller said on Thursday that there was sufficient desire expressed to keep the tournament going "that it was worth making some changes to keep it."
In past years, the Friday winners have played on Saturday with the losers squaring off in a consolation game. In the new format, Warren will play Eisenhower and Youngsville. Sheffield will also play Eisenhower and Youngsville but will not face Warren.
The issue of the tournament sparked a contentious discussion during the Personnel, Athletics and Co-Curricular committee meeting held on Monday night.
Committee member Tom Knapp doesn't think the changes have gone far enough.
"If the coach doesn't want to play, and the kids don't want to play; just because the athletic coordinator says okay, I don't think they should be required to participate.
"(I have) watched the tip off since its conception and what is seen is humiliation of three class A schools by a AAA school. This is not good for the program to look forward to getting humiliated every year."
Miller said that the original purpose of the tournament as a venue for the Warren County community to be able to go to one venue and see all the school district varsity basketball teams has been reviewed. "That was the main reason it was put together," he said.
He explained that there was discussion about each school holding its own tournament but, Miller noted, "I think that the district has the responsibility to control costs. He noted that the schools can save money on transportation costs and officials by having the county-wide event.
"Nobody makes any money off of this," he added. He also indicated that the opportunity to raise funding through running the concessions at the tournament has been offered to the other schools "and in each case it was turned down." Knapp noted that logistical problems with bringing prepared food to WAHS might be part of the issue in the rejection.
The decision to hold the classic in the new format was agreed upon in April but, Miller said, did not have 100 percent consensus from the principals and athletic coordinators involved.
Knapp said that a tournament with three county class A schools and an additional out-of-county class A school would "be ok" but the tournament in its prior form was "not competitive." He claimed that the student athletes would have "no feel or sense of competing, knowing they're going to get clobbered." He asked that the coaches be involved in the decision-making process next year.
Committee chair, and former athletic coordinator at Sheffield, Jack Werner said that there was a "degree of competitiveness" when he was the coordinator. "(The) guys rarely get to see the girls play and vice versa," he noted.
Dr. Paul Yourchisin said that he always looked forward to the tournament. "I didn't detect the negativity."
"I think it has gotten less competitive," Werner said.
While the focus of the discussion was on the struggles of the smaller schools, Miller pointed out that "Warren has a general concern. They play in a different type of league."
"From Warren's standpoint, they would be better off in a competition with schools in their level," Knapp noted.
"If this is a true issue, why don't we ask the coaches and students," Superintendent Brandon Hufnagel asked. "If the students don't want to play in the game, I think there is merit in not playing it. There's advantages and disadvantages to do that. I think it's all for one, one for all. We either require everybody to do it or nobody to do it."
Werner took a different perspective on that issue, expressing support for the building principal as the leader of a school's athletic program. "I would not want to have scheduling desires of a coach override the principal of a school. It's his athletic program."