RENTON -- Mike Colbrese called it a "search and rescue."
The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association's executive director and members of the executive board met with six boys coaches Tuesday to create a dialogue that could lead to further changes in the state basketball tournaments.
The coaches, members of the Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association state tournament format committee, were Joe Harris (Chelan), Tim Kelly (Curtis), Nalin Sood (Mountlake Terrace), Gary Wusterbarth (Steilacoom), Dave Dickson (Squalicum) and Jason Kerr (Franklin).
"We understand where they're coming from," Colbrese said. "They obviously would prefer the former 16-team tournament, but they also, I think, understand the board's position that that's not the same financially (as it once was), so where do we come together to provide an experience that satisfies both of those concerns?"
The WIAA and WIBCA are working to find a model that enhances the experience for student-athletes and fans. But it must also be financially sustainable.
"Compared to a year ago, we feel like we're headed in the right direction," said Sood, the WIBCA president. He said he's optimistic the coaches association and the WIAA can work together on the state tournaments, "which, let's face it, is the cash cow for the WIAA."
The coaches' group would like to return to a 16-team tournament format. Total revenue from the 16-team state tournaments in 2010 fell $80,000 short of WIAA expectations, prompting an overhaul of the tourney format.
The 2011 tournaments, featuring opening-round state games at regional sites and eight-team, one-site, double-elimination tournaments, produced $30,000 more than anticipated.
With that in mind, it would seem unlikely the WIAA would completely reverse course.
Sood said he is confident there will be some changes. Colbrese will meet with a group of girls coaches Monday as the WIAA continues to seek input. Any changes would have to be approved when the executive board meets April 17 and 18.
"We're trying to create that win-win without anybody losing anything and the experience being a positive one," Colbrese said. "We shared with them the data that we've collected, both the survey information and the financial information, gave them a summary of the survey and the things we're hearing about this last year's tournament."
Colbrese and Sood considered the meeting a step in the right direction.
"We're going to try to improve things from this year," Sood said. "We all have a common goal of making the postseason tournaments, whatever they may be for next year and in the future, a great experience for kids."