Iowa cuts prep football playoff teams from 32 to 16 per class

June 16, 2015 /
Beginning in 2016, the number of Iowa high school football teams that qualify for the playoffs will be cut in half.

Beginning in 2016 the number of prep football playoff qualifiers will be cut from 32 to 16.
Beginning in 2016 the number of prep football playoff qualifiers will be cut from 32 to 16.

The Iowa High School Athletic Association has reduced the number of playoff teams in each of its six classes from 32 to 16. The organization’s review of the current playoff structure raised safety concerns with a limited number of rest days between each game.

The nine-game regular season will stay intact.

“(These) actions put in place a scenario for the football postseason which allows for one week between games,” said Alan Beste, IHSAA executive director. “The driving force behind this decision is player safety and keeping the best interest of our students at the forefront.”

The Des Moines Register reports that this is the first reduction in the number of state football playoff qualifiers since 1972. The number was increased from 16 to 32 in 2008.

In 2013, 37 teams with losing records qualified for the playoffs, according to the article. That included two teams with 2-7 records.

From the Des Moines Register:

The elimination of half the field means qualifiers will play a maximum of four playoff games, rather than five. The athletes can use the added recovery time for players with minor injuries.

“If you had an extra day or two, they could get better or play at a higher level,” Waukee coach Scott Carlson said.

The IHSAA has placed added emphasis on safety in the last few years, eliminating two-a-days and setting contact rules for practice.

The decision will be a financial hit to the association, Beste said.

Football income for the organization was more than $1.7 million in 2013. Its profits were $1,052,617. The next-most profitable sport was basketball, at $800,000.

Moving first-round playoffs games from Wednesday to Friday will hopefully increase attendance, Beste said.

“We’re not going to cut programs,” Beste said. “We’re just looking at making more fiscally responsible decisions.”

Beste told the Des Moines Register that the decision could cost the association up to $300,000 a year.

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