The University of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association officially extended a contract allowing high school state championships to take place on campus until 2020.
According to a WIAA statement, university facilities will host championships in basketball, football, golf, wrestling and softball until the spring of 2020.
WIAA spokesperson Todd Clark said extending the contract is a way to introduce perspective student athletes to the campus and some of the finest venues in both the state and the nation.
“I think it does something for the status of Madison as a sports town, not only at the collegiate level, but also at the high school level,” Clark said. “I think it’s important and positive for everyone involved.”
Clark said the city also prospers from the number of student athletes and spectators that come into town and boost business for hotels and restaurants.
Justin Doherty, associate athletic director at the UW, said the championships attract thousands of people into the UW System’s flagship campus and brings great exposure to the city.
According to the WIAA statement, the state tournaments in Madison drew 237,214 paid attendants and thousands of additional coaches, school administrators and supporters during the 2011-2012 academic year.
Mayor Paul Soglin said even though holding the championships in Madison brings many benefits to the city, the greatest benefit is for students who get to participate in a state championship and play on the same court as UW teams.
“We worked really hard with the university and the WIAA to make this happen,” Soglin said. “We’re quite pleased.”
Clark noted although statistics report most kids who play sports in high school do not move on to play in college, this contract allows high school students to live out their dream of playing on campus.
Doherty said it is uncommon for contracts to extend out this far, but he added he feels good about the relationship with the WIAA to continue this long-standing tradition.
Along with the positivity surrounding the contract extension, there have been scheduling conflicts of sporting events that the WIAA and the UW are working on resolving.
Dates for WIAA state tournaments have come into conflict with other UW athletics programs that are scheduled to take place at the same venue, Clark said.
Doherty also commented on the issue and noted scheduling events at the Kohl Center, where the university often hosts hockey, wrestling and basketball playoffs, can be complex. He said the only way to resolve these conflicts is to get everyone together to come up with a solution.
“That’s what we’ve been doing, and that’s what we will continue to do moving forward,” Doherty said.
Clark said even though it is too soon to tell, he believes if the relationship between the UW and WIAA remains how it is now, the contract will be extended in 2020 as well.
The State Boys Basketball Tournament and the State Individual Wrestling Tournament have been held at the Kohl Center since 1998, according to the WIAA statement. Camp Randall Stadium has hosted the WIAA State Football Finals since 1982.