At its quarterly central board meeting this week, the Alabama High School Athletic Association voted to use instant replay this fall in its high school football games.
Alabama is believed to be the first state to have instant replay available at all high school games, although New Jersey and Minnesota have used or planned to use it in state championship games.
"The purpose of instant replay," AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese told the Alabama Media Group, "is to aid the officials in getting it right."
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NCHSAA commissioner Que Tucker
N.C. High School Athletic Association executive director Que Tucker had lunch with Savarese in Indianapolis Thursday while they were attending a meeting of national association heads. They talked about Alabama’s move to add replay.
Tucker was asked if North Carolina might one day do the same thing. She said for now, the state would monitor what’s going on in Alabama.
"Have we thought about it in North Carolina? Well, yes, we have," Tucker said, "but we’re nowhere close to making a decision to say we will do that."
Already, the NCHSAA does have a form of replay – at least in state championship basketball games.
In 2013, Oxford Webb beat Statesville 73-70 in the N.C. 2A state championship game in overtime. Isaiah Hicks, a McDonald’s All-American who later played on the North Carolina Tar Heels’ national championship team, hit a shot that would have won the game at the buzzer in regulation.
The shot, which many felt was released on time, was ruled to have come after the clock expired.
The next year, Tucker said the NCHSAA implemented a rule to allow officials to use televised replays, in state finals, to determine if a player got a shot off before time expired in a quarter or a game.
At the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A state championship last month, there was controversy over whether a player from Jacksonville Northside legally made what would have been a game-winning 3-point shot at the end of the game against Concord’s Cox Mill High School.
The player was ruled out of bounds before he made the attempt. Video replays later confirmed it. But there was controversy when the officials initially made the call – and no replay to confirm it (the NCHSAA rule only covers whether shots were released on time).
Savarese, the Alabama high schools director, was asked about the costs of implementing the solution, and while he didn’t go into specifics, he said costs would be minimal for his schools.
Current National Federation of High School rules do allow for instant replay for football. The Alabama schools have been granted a waiver that will last for up to three years to experiment with replay.
The AHSAA will partner with DVSport, a 16-year-old software company out of Pittsburgh, to provide the equipment to schools. According to its website, DVSport’s replay solutions have been used in more than 10,000 college football games and more than 15,000 college basketball games.
For the high school games, DVSport’s solution will plug into each schools’ current video-taping cameras and machines and officials will access replays via a hand-held tablet, like an iPad, on the field.
Vance High football coach Aaron Brand was surprised to hear about Alabama’s plans. He said he hopes it doesn’t migrate to his state.
"I don’t like referees messing up as much as they are, but they’re not messing up on purpose," Brand said. "I like to keep football somewhat genuine, and there’s going to be a little bit of home-field advantage here and there, and that’s important. Adding replay would make for a longer game, too. I know it’s on Friday night, but I’m good without it."
Olympic High’s Jason Fowler took the opposite view.
"I think (replay in North Carolina) would be a great idea," he said. "I think we all would like to challenge some of the calls we get. It would make the officials’ association be more accountable."
Tucker, the NCHSAA commissioner, seems to think Fowler is going to get his wish, that moving toward replay seems inevitable.
"Everybody in the world can video anything," she said. "You think about parents in the stands. They have a (camera phone). The National Federation changed its rules to allow coaches to have electronic devices on the sidelines. That changes the landscape.
"Now officials hear coaches on the sidelines – not necessarily talking to the officials – but saying, ‘Well, lookie here. He just missed that call.’ If that’s happening on the sidelines and coaches are (filming it), we probably can’t be that far away from it becoming a standard."
Wertz: 704-358-5133; Twitter: @langstonwertzjr