Why a 'unique situation' caused the IHSAA to move a boys basketball sectional location

EVANSVILLE — The Indiana High School Athletic Association is calling this a “unique situation."

It was announced Monday that the Class 3A boys basketball sectional scheduled to be hosted at Southridge High School in three weeks will be moved to Washington. The issue is access to the gym floor for an assistant coach who requires a wheelchair at one of the participating schools.

Memorial Gymnasium, which was built in 1951, is compliant with The Americans with Disabilities Act with access to the gym itself but not down to the floor.

“The concern came with access to the floor which had never been an issue before,” said IHSAA assistant commissioner Brian Lewis. “This is one of those unique situations that was brought to our attention.”

When Southridge learned it needed to make changes

Southridge athletics director Scott Buening said the school was notified in January of a potential ADA-compliance issue with Memorial Gymnasium.

The Southwest Dubois County School Corporation attempted to find solutions for new accommodations but none that were ADA-compliant could be installed before the postseason opens. The sectional is scheduled to run from Feb. 28 until March 4.

Southridge is also scheduled to host the Class 2A regional on March 11. The IHSAA said that is still the case.

“We are in the process of providing an ADA-compliant solution to Memorial Gym floor,” said Buening. “But we do not anticipate this solution will be completed prior to the regional.”

Memorial Gym in Huntingburg, Ind. host the IHSAA Class 3A Boys Basketball Regional semifinals Saturday, March 9, 2019.
Memorial Gym in Huntingburg, Ind. host the IHSAA Class 3A Boys Basketball Regional semifinals Saturday, March 9, 2019.

Why did the IHSAA decide to make this change?

Lewis told the Courier & Press the IHSAA was notified in early to mid-January about possible ADA compliance issues with Memorial Gymnasium. He said there is “zero question” the gym is compliant for spectators, but the concern came with floor access.

He said one of the participating schools has a coach that needs access but would not specify which school. Memorial Gymnasium has a bowl-style setup requiring spectators to use steps to reach the gym floor. There is no lift solution for anyone requiring a wheelchair.

Due to the limited window to make an accommodation, the participating schools chose to move the sectional to Washington.

The IHSAA said Memorial Gymnasium will again host the sectional in 2024.

“Southridge was more than willing to accommodate and make any changes they possibly could to fil those needs,” said Lewis. “They weren’t given enough time to do that. Between now and next year’s sectional, they will make accommodations to be ADA-compliant to the floor.”

Which schools are affected by the change?

The following schools compete in Sectional 31 for boys basketball: Heritage Hills, North Daviess, Pike Central, Princeton Community, Southridge, Vincennes Lincoln and Washington.

North Daviess and Heritage Hills are new to Sectional 31 following new IHSAA realignments in May. The sectional hosts across the state were announced in the fall.

Southridge and the IHSAA declined to say which participating school requires access to the gym floor. The Courier & Press has reached out for comment from athletics directors at every school in the sectional.

"The Hatchet House is one of the iconic venues for high school basketball in the state," said Washington athletics director Larry Cochren. "We obviously run several tournaments and the IHSAA asked us to make the switch. As an IHSAA member institution, we will do what the IHSAA asks us to do."

This article originally appeared on Evansville Courier & Press: IHSAA calls boys basketball sectional change a 'unique situation'