Minnesota State High School League: Wikis


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Minnesota State High School League
Abbreviation MSHSL
Formation 1916
Type Volunteer; NPO
Legal status Association
Purpose/focus Athletic/Educational
Headquarters 2100 Freeway Blvd.
Brooklyn Center, MN 55430
Region served Minnesota
Membership ~500 schools
Official languages English
Executive Director David Stead
Affiliations National Federation of State High School Associations
Staff 22
Website mshsl.org
Remarks (763) 560-2262

The Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) is a voluntary, non-profit association of public and private schools with a history of service to Minnesota's high school youth since 1916. It is a member of the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Today, nearly 500 schools are members of the League. Most — about 435 — are actual high schools. The remainder are either special schools or home schools. These member schools provide opportunities for athletics and fine arts competition for more than 200,000 high school students statewide each year.

Member schools annually choose to join the League. The League exists to provide competitive, equitable and uniform opportunities for high school students to learn valuable lessons through participation in athletics and fine arts. The League also provides support for member schools with programs that address sportsmanship, chemical health, scholarship recognition. The League also oversees more than 4,500 registered contest officials and judges. The League provides educational programs for coaches.

The Minnesota State High School League neither solicits nor receives any state funding. Most revenue comes from state tournament ticket sales, broadcast rights, and corporate partnerships, plus some from the sale of tournament merchandise. The League also annually returns hundreds of thousands of dollars to schools which had participants in state tournaments and contests to help offset the costs associated with "Going to State."



The Minnesota State High School League was first formed in 1916 as the State High School Athletic Association. The main purposes of this organization were to promote amateur sports and establish uniform eligibility rules for interscholastic competitions. In 1929 the organization changed its name to the Minnesota State High School League; it also broadened its scope by including all interscholastic athletic activities (and also added speech and debate). Music contests were added in 1965 and girls athletics in 1969.

The League has existed as a nonprofit, voluntary association of the public high schools since its formation. It was officially incorporated under the laws of the State of Minnesota as a nonprofit corporation in 1960.[1]

School congressional body

The school congressional body is the governing body that oversees the constitution of the Minnesota State High School League. It is made up of representatives from each of the member schools, although participation in the meetings is not mandatory. In the past, the congressional body has convened three times.


First congress of schools

On April 23 and 24, 1971, representatives from 447 of the 486 member schools attended the first official meeting of the league in its 55-year history. A Congress of the member schools was called to consider the restructuring of the Articles of Incorporation, the Constitution, the Special Rules Sections of each league activity program and the establishment of a General Rules Section. The primary purpose of the meeting was to update the League's structure and to bring it into compliance with the existing laws of the State of Minnesota regarding nonprofit organizations.[2]

Second congress of schools

On December 8 and 9, 1972, representatives from 427 of the 484 member schools gathered at the Minneapolis Auditorium to participate in the league's 2nd Congress of Schools. Over 900 men and women, boys and girls, school board members, legislators, superintendents, principals, athletic directors, coaches of athletic and non-athletic activities and students actively participated in the action of the Congress.

The two main topics in the discussions were (1) alcohol, tobacco and drugs, and (2) summer participation as applies to football, basketball and hockey. Many issues of each topic were presented to the Congress by two panels of community leaders and educators. However, it was the small discussion session that followed each panel presentation that established the effective process of the Congress. In each small discussion group there was open, frank dialogue and interaction. These small group sessions were evaluated and the findings were presented to the total group the following day.[2]

Third congress of schools

The third congress of schools meeting held in the St. Paul Civic Center Auditorium on November 11 and 12, 1987 was attended by more than 600 administrators and school board members from 296 member schools. The purposes of the two-day meeting were to provide an opportunity for member schools of the MSHSL to participate in workshops and roundtable discussions in areas that directly impact league-sponsored activities and to present a first reading of the proposed amendments to the Representative Assembly.[2]

Class System

2009 Boys AA Championship game at the Xcel Energy Center.

On April 17, 1975 the member schools of the Minnesota State High School League approved amendments that provided the changes necessary to implement reorganization for two class competition[3]. Prior to this, schools of all sizes were competing against each other. The idea behind the division was to reduce the inherent advantage that was given to the larger schools. The Board of Directors assigned the largest 128 schools by enrollment to the AA classification. All other member schools were assigned to Class A. Each class is then split into eight sections, with the number of teams in each section varying. In April 1983 the Board of Directors adopted a policy which assigned schools with a minimum enrollment of 500 students to Class AA and schools with an enrollment 1-499 to Class A. Depending on the number of schools participating in an activity, additional classes may be needed or no class system may be needed at all. The highest current class in any activity is AAAAA (football).


The following sports are offered under the supervision of the MSHSL. All of these sports have a single elimination tournament at the end of the season which awards a state championship to the winning team (some sports also award individual championships as well).

At the end of the season, teams participate in a sectional tournament. For each class, the state is divided into 8 sections. Every two years, the MSHSL determines a school's activity classification and section placement. Different sections have different numbers of teams depending upon the class and activity in question. For example, most sections in football have 8 teams. In a typical 8-team section, all 8 teams will make the playoffs regardless of their regular season record. If a football section has 9 teams, then the ninth team will not make the playoffs. In all other sports, every team advances to the postseason. In basketball, for Classes AAAA and AAA, a typical section has 8 team, whereas a typical section in Class AA has about 16 teams, and a Class A section can have 20 or more. In these cases where a section has more or less teams than an even 8 or 16, higher seeded teams may receive byes, or lower seeded teams may have to play an extra play-in game. The other option is for a section to be divided in to two 8-team (or more) sub-sections with the sub-section champions playing for the section title.

These sections are strictly geographical, and are normally numbered from Southeast to Northwest. Thus, with football, for example, Section 1AAA would have schools in Class AAA that are from the Southeastern part of the state, while Section 7AAAA will have Class AAAA schools from the Northeastern part of the state. As a general rule, this serves pretty well, however it breaks down when dealing with the larger classes. In Class AAAAA Football, given the concentration of large schools in the Twin Cities Metro, Section 1AAAAA comprises the three Rochester public schools, Owatonna, and four southern suburbs. At the other end, Section 8AAAAA covers the entire northern half of the state with Bemidji, Brainerd, Moorhead, one of the St. Cloud public schools, and three northern exurbs. Sections 2AAAAA-7AAAAA are a mixture of suburbs, exurbs and Minneapolis/St. Paul schools.

Each section has its own methods and procedures for determining seeding in the section tournament. Some sections use elaborate point systems while others base seeding simply on records. The winner of the section tournament advances to State. Pairings at State are predetermined before the season, matching one section champion against another. In the Fall of 2005, the MSHSL experimented by having coaches seed the State Soccer Tournament [1].

For a complete list of state championship winners by sport see the list of Minnesota State High School League State Championships.

Fall Classes Winter Classes Spring Classes
Adapted Soccer None Adapted Floor Hockey None Adapted Bowling None
Tennis, Girls A
Nordic Ski Racing, Boys and Girls None Adapted Softball None
Soccer, Boys and Girls A
Hockey, Boys and Girls A
Golf, Boys and Girls A
AAA (boys)
Cross Country, Boys and Girls A
Alpine Skiing, Boys and Girls None Track and Field, Boys and Girls A
Volleyball, Girls A
Dance Team, Girls A
Softball, Girls A
Football 9-man[1]
Wrestling A
Baseball, Boys A
Swimming and Diving, Girls A
Swimming and Diving, Boys A
Synchronized Swimming, Girls None
Basketball, Boys and Girls A
Lacrosse, Boys and Girls None
Gymnastics, Girls A
Tennis, Boys A
  1. ^  - 9-Man is for schools too small to be placed in Class A.
Fall Classes Winter Classes Spring Classes
One Act Play A
Speech A
Debate None Visual Arts A
Music A[2]
  1. ^  - Sections 3, 6, and 8 do not sponsor a competition[4]
  2. ^  - only Sections 4A, 5A, and 6A sponsor competition[5]
  3. ^  - All sections, 1AA through 8AA, have a competition[5]


Because of the large number of high schools and large distances spanned between some of them, many schools are organized into conferences. These conferences, which, according to Minnesota State High School League rules, must have a minimum of five members, are usually composed of schools that are in close geographic proximity and have similar enrollments. During the regular season, a school plays a number of its games against other teams in its conference (this number varies depending on the sport and conference in question). However, unlike in states such as California or Wisconsin, a team's conference standing has no bearing on its postseason. Since every team makes the playoffs and seeding is done at the discretion of the section, a team's conference performance has no direct effect on its postseason fate. A team could win its conference, but still be seeded lower than teams that finished behind it due to other considerations such as overall record, or the strength of opponents. Often, teams from one conference are spread over different sections and sometimes different classes.


External links


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