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8:12 AM Thu, Nov. 15th

AIA's chief confident in KAHS' move

Barring any drastic issues that need to be addressed immediately, Arizona Interscholastic Association Executive Director Harold Slemmer says Kingman Academy High School should have no problems becoming a member of the association.

"We've haven't heard anything negative about their Charter Athletic Association membership," Slemmer said. "I don't really anticipate any bumps in the road that they can't work through."

The AIA's Executive Board recently approved KAHS' application for membership beginning in the fall. The only two major hurdles left to be completed are a facilities inspection and a vote by existing AIA schools that Slemmer says is more of a formality.

Slemmer is expected to conduct the inspection in person sometime this spring, possibly in April. He will look over the KAHS gym where the Tigers play basketball and volleyball, Centennial Park (home to the school's softball team and is where the football team practices), and Southside Park, where the Tigers play baseball and football.

"It's a pretty serious task," Slemmer said of the inspections. "I'm the executive director, so I want to meet them face to face. I want to walk through the facilities and do a lengthy orientation, telling them what our expectations are. They meet me first-hand and they can get a contact person if they need help in the future or have questions."

In addition to the inspection, Slemmer said he would invite school officials to Phoenix to participate in workshops and learn the intricate workings of the AIA.

Speculation has been that in order to become an AIA member, the school must play its basketball games on a wood floor. "There is no rule that requires every school to have a wood floor," Slemmer said.

While a vast majority of surfaces are, Slemmer said that there are different types of surfaces member schools play on. He's even seen one charter school play on a carpet surface complete with all the proper markings.

"It's not a bad facility. It was in a church and I have had zero complaints from teams that have gone there and played there," Slemmer said.

The main things he looks for when he's conducting the inspections is making sure the facilities follow the National Federation of High Schools rules book of guidelines. For example, is the basketball court 84-feet long and 50-feet wide?

Other things he looks for are seating capacity, safety concerns - how far is the seating from the playing surface. He also checks locker room space and if there is a place for officials to dress.

"We've been pretty flexible with the charter schools knowing that they have limited facilities," Slemmer said. "A lot of time what the charter schools will be doing is renting space at a local YMCA or a Boys and Girls Club or Parks and Recreation facilities. We've been pretty flexible with that, especially with the first few years, to accommodate those games. But certainly as they move on they can improve those facilities."

Calls for KAHS to move to the AIA from the CAA have grown over the years with the increase of opposing CAA teams choosing to forfeit games instead of making the trip to Kingman. It's a tipping point that finally boiled over Saturday when South Ridge made the decision to forfeit its basketball games on a night the Tigers had planned as their fourth annual cancer night.

Forfeits are something the AIA takes extremely seriously.

"They can't forfeit a game," Slemmer said. "That would be a serious bylaw infraction, if teams did that within the association. First of all, they are going to sanctioned. If they continue, they would be disqualified from the association."

The reason why the AIA takes game forfeits so seriously is because the association assigns officials for the game. When teams make up the schedule, Slemmer says its like a contract between the team and the member schools.

However, games can still be cancelled or postponed due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. At that time both schools need to come to a mutual agreement to reschedule the game or simply cancel it.

"For them to say we are not going to come up, that's something our schools don't even go there," Slimmer said. "The only way a game can be cancelled is if both schools agree that this won't work out."

Since the news broke of KAHS' move to the AIA, the reaction has been positive. Coaches at Kingman High School are looking forward to the potential it has not only for both schools, but also for the community.

"It's a nice thing that they are welcoming them aboard and that they are excited about it," Slemmer said.