The IHSA Board of Directors met for their regularly scheduled meeting at the IHSA office in Bloomington on Monday, June 10, 2019, where the Board announced a new IHSA Boys & Girls Basketball State Final format.
The format change comes in conjunction with the Board voting to seek Request For Proposals to host each of the state finals tournaments from 2021 to 2023.
As a result of Monday’s changes, the IHSA Girls Basketball State Finals will be held on a single weekend in 2021, spanning Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The Boys Basketball State Finals will have the same Thursday, Friday, and Saturday model and be held one week later.
The 2021 IHSA Girls Basketball State Finals will be held during Week 35 (March 4-6, 2021) of the IHSA Standardized calendar, which is currently the weekend of the Class 3A/4A Girls Basketball State Finals, while the boys tourney will take place during Week 36 (March 11-13, 2021), previously the week of the 1A/2A Boys State Finals. Each class will continue to have four state final qualifying teams, while the exact number of games each day and the game times will be finalized in the coming months.
“There has been a great deal of support for this new tournament format over the past few months,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “We tried to be as transparent as possible, communicating the idea and seeking feedback from basketball coaches and school administrators throughout the state in a variety of ways. It was fairly unanimous that most felt like it was idea worth trying.”
Currently, the IHSA Basketball State Finals take place over four weekends, with the Class 1A and 2A Girls Tournament and the Class 3A and 4A Girls Tournament being held on consecutive weekends at Illinois State University’s Redbird Arena in Normal. The next two weekends then feature the boys tourney in the same format (1A/2A one weekend followed by 3A/4A the next) at Carver Arena inside the Peoria Civic Center. Illinois State University has hosted the Girls State Finals since 1992, while next March will mark the 25th year of America’s Original March Madness being played in Peoria.
“We obviously have great relationships with both venues and host communities,” said Anderson. “We fully expect both to bid once again, but believe it’s only fair to open up the process in conjunction with these format changes so that they can evaluate if and how it impacts them. We are not tied to any host format. We’d be open to having both tournaments at the same venue or continuing to have them in separate venues.”
The state tournaments will be played under the current four-weekend format in 2020, with the new format going into effect in 2021, 2022 and 2023.
In addition, the changes approved Monday will also alter the IHSA Boys & Girls Basketball State Series schedule at the Regional, Sectional and Super-Sectional levels.