NJSIAA moves toward state football champs
ROBBINSVILLE—As expected, New Jersey high schools overwhelmingly voted to amend the Constitution of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) last week, creating a pathway to true state football championships for public school teams.
NJSIAA member schools voted 318-12 with six abstentions to eliminate a line in Article IX of the constitution that reads: “No state championship shall be declared in football.”
The vote now opens the door for public schools to begin playing for state championships in 2022.
NJSIAA Chief Operating Officer Colleen Maguire supported the change and was pleased that the membership voted for it last week.
“Our members have spoken, and I applaud their decision. Now it is time to get to work on a plan that will bring a true state champion in high school football to reality,” Maguire said in a statement.
West Jersey Football League president Derryk Sellers also supported the change and was excited about the move.
“I’m very happy and so is our league. It’s been talked about for a while, and now it looks like it will happen,” Sellers said.
The change received much more than the two-thirds vote needed by the 350-member schools. The New Jersey Football Coaches Association has been developing a plan on how to implement the state championship games. That plan, which included a regular season and postseason schedule, must also be approved by the executive committee and the general membership. According to Maguire, that plan encourages student athletes’ health and safety, honors Thanksgiving rivalries and limits the number of games played, according to Maguire.
Maguire’s endorsement of the proposal likely helped it pass last week. Previous attempts to change the Constitution were not approved by the membership and the NJSIAA had not supported such a change until this year. Proposals to create public school championships failed in both 2011 and 2013.
New Jersey remains one of just a few states that does not play to true state champions. Non-public schools have competed for state titles, and since 2018, public schools have come to within one game of a state championship, with regional title games that are really state semifinals.
The line in the Constitution was written in 1931, although no one within the NJSIAA knows exactly why it was enacted.