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The Front Row with MARK NELKE April 22, 2010

| April 22, 2010 9:00 PM

With Idaho schools scheduled to receive less money than expected from the state legislature next year, the Idaho High School Activities Association board of control voted last week to recommend cutting a few games in "non-revenue" sports for the 2010-11 school year.

Sure beats the alternative.

"I would rather cut the number of contests and not have to cut programs," Coeur d'Alene High athletic director Todd Gilkey said.

Last week in Boise, the IHSAA proposed the following cuts:

Baseball, 25 games to 22 for 4A and 5A schools, 24 games to 22 for 3As and smaller;

Softball, same as baseball;

Track and field, 9 meets to 8;

Tennis, 20 dates to 16 dates;

Golf, 12 matches to 10;

Wrestling, 16 dates to 15;

Cross country, 9 meets to 8; and

Soccer, 18 games to 16.

A final vote on the proposed cuts will be taken in June.

Three sports that weren't affected by the proposal were the three main "revenue" sports - football, basketball and volleyball.

Football will remain at nine regular-season games, basketball at 20 games, volleyball at 16 dates.

"Those are revenue sports, and it didn't make any sense to cut games when they're already struggling financially," said John Billetz, executive director of the IHSAA.

With fewer games, schools will save money by having to pay for less travel and administrative (officials, etc.) costs.

"I think the board needs to be commended," Billetz said. "We just felt the IHSAA needed to step up to the plate. If we had to limit activities, this was the best possible scenario."

Boise schools could have to decide whether to trim conference games or eliminate the Idaho Sporting Goods tournament (for softball), which Coeur d'Alene and Lake City annually play in, and/or the Buck's Bags baseball tournament, or not send teams to Lewiston for some early season games there with North Idaho teams in March.

In other news from last week's meeting:

Coeur d'Alene High was approved to play a 10th football game this fall. Ironically, that game is with city rival Lake City, and allows the Timberwolves to have a full nine-game schedule.

A motion to approve Eagle Island State Park as the permanent site for state cross country was denied. There was enough sentiment in North Idaho and eastern Idaho to have the state meet there every few years.

Also at state cross country, 1A teams will continue to compete with the larger 2A schools. There was a push to have separate 2A and 1A divisions.

Some news from Post Falls High ...

Former Trojan player Becky Thompson has been hired as girls soccer coach. Thompson played soccer at Post Falls, graduating in 2002. She later played at North Idaho College, and was assistant coach for the NIC women's soccer team the past five seasons. She replaces Rob Rowe, who coached the Trojans the past four seasons.

Following a one-year leave of absence to coach in Texas, Kelly Erickson will return this fall as Post Falls swimming coach. Erickson previously coached the Trojans from 2006-08.

Athletic director Craig Christensen was presented the 2010 State Award of Merit by the Idaho Athletic Administrators Association last week in Boise.

Christensen, in his eighth year as A.D. at Post Falls, has served the IAAA as an executive board member the past three years and chaired all publications, which includes the Web site and the newsletter. He has also served the IHSAA as a member of the cost analysis and transportation committee. He has also served as tournament manager for 10 Idaho state tournaments in soccer, softball and volleyball.

Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via e-mail at

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