District 3 approves new freeze dates aimed at curtailing manipulation of power ratings

The (Carlisle) Sentinel (TNS)

If District 3's plan runs as intended, it will be harder to manipulate the postseason power ratings with last-minute schedule changes.

One of District 3's first major orders of business in 2021, in the first meeting since Pennsylvania's emergency mitigation orders ended Monday, is to enact a power ratings freeze date.

Wednesday, District 3's board of directors passed a motion setting freeze dates for when teams can add new, previously unscheduled games to their calendar that still count for the power ratings. The move is effective immediately for all winter, spring and fall sports.

Under the plan, which was first discussed in the months since the fall season, any games added in the final 14 days prior to the power rankings deadline at the end of the regular season cannot count to the power rankings formula that determines the district playoffs.

Teams can still add games to their schedule in that 14-day window, but they will not count toward the power ratings.

Any games that are made up in that two-week window — either from a postponed game prior to the freeze date or a postponed game after the freeze date, or some similar scheduling change involving an already scheduled game between two opponents — can still count. The only games that will not count are those added by a team into District 3's Gimpware software — used to tabulate schedules and power ratings online — after the freeze date that did not previously exist in D3's schedule.

The aim is to prevent ratings manipulations that became more abundant during the fall season as several teams tried to add enough games to squeeze into the postseason during the truncated fall calendar.

"It will fall on Bobby [Baker] and I to monitor that, to make sure that legitimate games — again scheduled before that freeze date — are still legitimate towards power rankings," District 3 webmaster Rod Frisco said.

In conjunction with releasing a schedule for the winter postseason tournaments, District 3 set those freeze dates for basketball and team wrestling.

The basketball power ratings deadline is Feb. 27, and the freeze date is set for Feb. 13. For wrestling, the freeze date is Jan. 31 and the ratings deadline Feb. 13.

Postseason outlook: The district's postseason schedule outline looks as such:

►Basketball: District tournament runs March 1-13.

►Swimming: Entry deadline is Feb. 27, swimming championships to be held March 6 at Cumberland Valley (Class 3-A) and Central York (2-A). Diving championships sites and times will be announced later

►Wrestling: Individual sectional tournaments run Feb. 20 at six sites (the district is working to have backup sites available in case of COVID-19 issues). District 2-A championships run Feb. 21 at Central Dauphin East. District 3-A championships run Feb. 27 at Spring Grove. The 2-A southeast PIAA regional is the same day in Bethlehem.

Wrestling states continue with the newly created super regionals — 2-A will be March 6, 3-A on March 7 — and one-day state championships March 12 (2-A) and 13 (3-A).

District 3 anticipates it will have a complete tournament outline, including detailed sites and tournament sizes, for all winter sports at its next meeting Jan. 19.

Dave Bitting, the basketball chairman, said D3 is considering a range of options for district basketball — from shrinking the field in a similar move as was enacted in the fall to holding a tournament with the same number of teams as in 2020.

"Everything's on the table," he said.

Doug Bohannon said he does not believe District 3 will consider allowing teams to replace other teams that drop out before the first round because of a COVID-19 issue. That was a point of contention for some fans after Harrisburg football dropped out hours after the district brackets were finalized in October. No team replaced the Cougars, giving York High a bye week in the 6-A semifinals.

"That will come out on the 19th when we sort of bring out the whole package of the tournament memos," he said. "My guess is, and it's not written in stone, it could change, but I think that would remain the same at this time."

Spring transfers allowed to play: The other announcement of significance Wednesday morning came when District 3 determined it will not bar spring sports athletes who transfer to new schools from competing in the regular season or postseason.

Because none of those athletes had a spring season in 2020, District 3 did not feel it was right to bar them from competing in a second straight season.

"We're not gonna double-whack them," Ron Kennedy said.