Point Park Basketball May Benefit From New KIAC Bylaw


The Point Park women’s basketball team may benefit from a new KIAC basketball hosting bylaw. Photo courtesy Zachary Weiss

Last year Point Park University was to host the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference men’s and women’s basketball final four after Midway College passed on its turn. The KIAC bylaws stated that sites for this event would be rotational and go by alphabetical order. Point Park was passed over however due to an unwritten rule that meant that teams in line to host would be ineligible its first time through the order.

KIAC Commissioner Bill Melton felt that once Point Park and Carlow joined the conference that he viewed this as unfair and determined that this unwritten rule would no longer hold true.

Now, fast forward a season later, and the bylaw has changed. Now the top seed will host each game throughout the tournament. This means that instead of a set site for the games the four top seeds would host the quarterfinals as was the case in the previous bylaw, however two different schools will host the semifinal and the top seed the final. In theory if the top seed as determined by the KIAC regular season standings were to win out, then they would host all of their games.

Last week I spoke to Melton about the bylaw change and here is what he had to say.

Zachary Weiss: What led to this change in the KIAC basketball rules?

Bill Melton: “Almost all of our sports for many years we did a rotational host for all of our tournaments in alphabetical order and there was an unwritten rule, a precedent that new schools coming into the KIAC would not be eligible the first year their school came up in alphabetical order to host a tournament. They would be looked over for that first year. Also during that time there was a lot of discussion every year, especially in basketball that we should host our tournament at either top seeds all the way through, or that we should do a final four at a neutral location.

Over the years this was discussed at almost every meeting and there was one year that we did host the basketball final four at the Civic Center in Frankfort, Kentucky. We weren’t asked back the following year, or we probably would have continued that neutral site situation. They actually lost money on that event, and therefore they didn’t ask us back. Then we went back to hosting in alphabetical order. Then there was a discussion a year or so after Point Park and Carlow came into our conference, that schools should not be looked over the first year they came up in alphabetical order for hosting a tournament. There was a change made. I can’t remember right now but I think that change was made two or three meetings ago at the AD’s meeting. At that time of course, Point Park had just been overlooked under the old rule for hosting basketball. Then once we overlooked them in basketball under the old rule. After the change was made new schools were included in alphabetical order the first time they came up regardless of it was their first season.

So as you know Point Park has hosted the cross country even this fall and will host the volleyball tournament this weekend. They normally would not have under the old rules, but now that these new rules have changed, we are allowing that. In basketball that change was made a couple of weeks ago. Instead of going in alphabetical order when Asbury would have hosted this year after Alice Lloyd hosted last year, the change was made by the ADs to have the basketball tournament have all games be hosted by the top seeds throughout the tournament and that’s how we’re going to do basketball this year. It seems like in basketball there’s a discussion for how we’re going to hold the tournament, almost every time the AD’s meet. My suspicion is that this format will be the dominant thing for a while, but I can’t guarantee that because the AD’s may come back and decide to go back to the location or have me look at neutral site. So that’s where we’re at now. Any new team will be eligible to host the tournament if we revert back to the alphabetical format, their first time coming through the order. Sports can change with how they look at tournaments at any time. Once we make a change if in future years if we go back to the format of top seeds hosting the opening rounds and then one host after, Asbury would host because they are next in alphabetical order because Alice Lloyd was the last school to host a basketball tournament.”

ZW: Do you support the AD’s decision?

BM: “I do support the athletic director’s decisions. The athletic directors each have one vote per school. The athletic directors each can cast the vote for their school. I as commissioner, have never mandated that a sport be handled in a specific way. I simply want the AD’s to make that decision and that hasn’t been a problem in the past. We have discussions of this nature in almost every AD meeting. For instance in baseball, last year and this year coming up we’ll be hosting the tournament in Kingsport. There has actually been a request by Point Park that we look into different venues so that it’s spread around a little bit and is in closer proximity to Kingsport, at least in various years. I am now looking at other venues for future years, but 2015 will be held in Kingsport. The baseball coaches are now requesting we push the tournament one week further because our timing of getting all of the games in. Now things can change based on the desires of the coaches and AD’s.”

ZW: How did the change in venue come up to the point where this new rule is being enforced?

BM: “We’ve got 11 schools currently and every AD has their own opinion. The meeting is an open meeting, anybody can suggest a change. Every once in a while those sort of things come up and we may or may not make a change. That’s why things change from time to time. My preference would actually be that all tournaments be held at member schools on a rotational basis in alphabetical order. I like that because each school has a chance to showcase itself and put on a tournament. Always each school can pass if they have some reason that they can’t host a tournament or it’s difficult to host a tournament, that would be my preference, but I don’t push that on the AD’s. I try to get to as many tournaments as possible but when tournaments are at top seeds all the way through you can’t get to every game. If it’s at a neutral site or host institution then I can come to many of the tournaments. It’s not a contentious issue and the fact that Point Park was passed over for the basketball tournament last year. That was the policy in place when that happened. At the next meeting it was changed, so that’s why Point Park is hosting two of our fall tournaments. I brought that issue to the forefront. Point Park of course was very much in favor of that and raised the issue. The meeting or so after it was raised, I came back to that and I was primarily the reason that it was changed. I didn’t think it was fair quite honestly for a team to wait 10 to 11 years to host, but that was our policy. It was changed quite quickly. It wasn’t a snub to Point Park at all.”

ZW: Does this put more emphasis on performing well in the regular season?

BM: “I don’t think it was necessarily a decision to put more emphasis on the regular season when we came to that decision. First of all, most of the NAIA conferences, at least in basketball, run the tournament this way where the top seed hosts each game. I guess it does put a little more emphasis on the regular season, but I don’t think that was a major determining factor to this.”

ZW: What is the state of KIAC basketball?

BM: It seems like it couldn’t be any stronger at this point: “KIAC basketball is improving. I think the ratings system would show that nationally. Obviously Point Park has made us a better conference overall, not just in basketball. The addition of Rio Grande has also made us a better conference athletically. We’re a better conference and it’s putting pressure on other schools to keep up. It’s very positive in that regard. I will tell you that a year or two into my time as a commissioner, I was worried about the KIAC folding because two or three schools were looking into going elsewhere, but we have settled down as a conference. That’s when we admitted the Pittsburgh schools [Point Park and Carlow] and Indiana Kokomo. We now have admitted Ohio Christian University contingent on them being approved on NAIA membership since they aren’t an NAIA school so they have to be approved by the NAIA for 2015-16. We have an application for membership from West Virginia Tech. We will be deciding this year if we admit them from the NAIA Independent group of schools. So right now, the KIAC is a very sought after conference from schools. We also have talked to Wilberforce and they may apply sometime in the future. There are two or three other schools on the radar rumors have that could be interested. We will be having a meeting soon about where our membership is going, what are the possibilities and how many members do we want. Those are healthy discussions. There is another conference in the NAIA that’s on the verge of folding up because so many schools have left the conference. The KIAC is in the strongest situation it’s been in for years.”