Nevada senate leaves NIAA bill dead on floor
Truckee and North Tahoe athletes won’t have to worry about taking home a consolation prize if they win a Nevada state championship next year.
State lawmakers will not force Nevada’s high school sports authority to award two crowns or exclude California schools from championship competition.
Bill dies on floor
Senate Bill 489, which could have required that, was left in administrative limbo April 19, the deadline for most Senate bills to pass out of the Senate. The bill got as far as the Senate floor before it was put on hold April 13.
The bill originally proposed excluding five California high schools that are members of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association from postseason competition.
The California schools – Tahoe-Truckee, South Tahoe, North Tahoe, Needles and Coleville – compete in NIAA leagues because of their proximity to Nevada and the fact winter travel over the Sierra can be dangerous.
Proponents of SB489 said Nevada state championships should be open only to Nevada schools, and they brought their case to the Legislature after petitioning the NIAA.
Without legislative action, the issue will go back to the NIAA for resolution.
One lawmaker says the group can take the hint left by lawmakers, who declined to bar the California schools and instead suggested establishing a dual crown to honor Nevada teams that lose to Californians in championship games.
“If they don’t have a good feeling about it, there’s no reason to push it down their throats,” said Sen. Ray Rawson, R-Las Vegas. “But the message is still there: Do something about it.”
Rawson is chairman of the Senate Human Resources and Facilities Committee, which held a hearing on the bill April 2 and made the recommendations.
Issue still around
“I really doubt the issue is dead, only because they can’t beat us,” said Tahoe-Truckee High School Athletic Director Chris Driesback. “I don’t think the people involved are really going to stop pressing issue.”
The movement was headed up by Southern Nevada’s Moapa Valley High School football coach Jeff Knutson.
Driesback said she expected the issue would arise again in the next two years, depending on what stance the NIAA takes in the aftermath of the decision.
Outside of the committee, some senators wondered how meaningful a dual championship would be and questioned whether a state law was really the best way to address the dispute. Others said the NIAA should resolve it.
Rawson said the committee’s action was intended as a “strong recommendation.”
While he agreed the issue isn’t the most important lawmakers will address, he said it has enough constituents concerned to warrant some kind of action.
In the end, Truckee’s just glad to be still in the game.
“We’re really happy we get to stay in the NIAA and participate,” Driesback said.
She said she doubted a dual trophy system would have ever worked had it been passed.
“If North Tahoe and Truckee played a championship game and one was first and the other one second, a Nevada team could still get a trophy,” she said.
“Would you want that third- place trophy? I’d be embarrassed to take it.”
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