WIAA executive director Mike Colbrese announces retirement

Executive director since 1993 will depart following 2018-19 school year

By Meg Wochnick, Columbian staff writer

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Mike Colbrese, executive director of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association since 1993, will retire from the association effective at the end of the 2018-19 school year. 

Colbrese, 68, informed the WIAA Executive Board of his decision at its recent board meeting, and the association informed member schools statewide of the news in an email Thursday morning. 

“I am extremely grateful for having had the opportunity to serve as WIAA’s Executive Director for the past quarter century,” Colbrese said. “I have dedicated my professional life to furthering high school activities, and I will end my career with the same passion and enthusiasm I brought to this position 25 years ago. Though we still have much important work ahead of us, we have accomplished a great deal over the past two-and-a-half decades. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the students, teachers, coaches and parents of Washington State.”

Colbrese was hired in 1993 as the association’s fourth executive director after serving six years as Commissioner of the Wyoming High School Activities Association. The WIAA is Colbrese’s third association.

Under Colbrese’s watch, notable changes include classification realignment twice (1997 and ‘06) to its present-day six classifications stringing from Class 4A to 1B, and next fall, the association welcomes its first out-of-state member — Oregon’s Hermiston High School — to compete for state championships in Class 3A representing the Mid-Columbia Conference.

But perhaps its biggest change didn’t come without controversy. In 2010-11, the WIAA did away with its long-standing 16-team double-elimination state basketball tournaments in favor of eight teams over three days in a cost-cutting effort. The tournaments have since been re-formatted to a 12-team, four-day format for all six classifications.

The WIAA Executive Board will begin a nationwide search for its next executive director, which will begin duties at the start of the 2019-20 school year.