There will be half as many teams qualifying for the Iowa High School football playoffs in the future.

The Iowa High School Athletic Association’s (IHSAA) Board of Control has voted to adopt a nine-game regular-season schedule and 16-team qualifier field for all six classes, starting with the 2016 playoffs. The change means a reduction from 32 teams who currently qualify for the postseason in each class.

The board's action means a total of 96 teams will qualify for the six-class playoff field in 2016, a reduction from the 192 teams that will participate in post-season play in 2015.

Schedules for 2015 regular season and the playoffs remain unchanged as previously published at www.iahsaa.org.

Alan Beste / Courtesy: IHSAA

The move comes after a review of the current playoff system which allows fewer days of rest and recovery between each game in the postseason. In a nod toward player safety and risk-minimization, the IHSAA has been looking at several options.

“Today’s actions put in place a scenario for the football postseason which allows for one week between games,” said Alan Beste, IHSAA Executive Director. “The driving force behind this decision is player safety and keeping the best interest of our students at the forefront.”

The board's decision eliminates the possibility of state quarterfinalists playing four games in a span of 15 days. In past years, the post-season started with first-round games on a Wednesday night. Winners would play their second post-season game the following Monday.

At its meeting on April 29, the IHSAA Board of Control had a discussion regarding the football start date and schedule beginning with the 2016 season. The Board considered many options at that meeting, but decided to gather further input from the IHSAA membership through the IHSAA Representative Council, Iowa High School Athletic Directors Association (IHSADA), and Iowa Football Coaches Association (IFCA).

It was decided the best way to have a collaborative discussion among those groups was to provide information regarding various options and have a large-group discussion at the IHSAA Representative Council meeting today (Monday, June 15, 2015). The move came about as an attempt to give the parties involved time to seek input from their constituents and be ready to have meaningful discussion at the IHSAA Representative Council.

At today’s meeting, representatives from the IHSADA and IFCA discussed the issue amongst the IHSAA Representative Council. Also present for the discussion were members of the IHSAA administrative team as well as the IHSAA Board of Control.

Following the Representative Council meeting, the IHSAA Board of Control convened and in a unanimous vote decided to retain the current nine-game regular-season format and move toward a 16-team playoff qualifier structure.

It's the second time in 18 months the IHSAA has changed the football playoff format. Prior to the start of the 2014 season, the Board of Control eliminated a bracket for the 192 qualifiers and put restrictions on travel for first-round games.

Football is the largest high school participation sport in Iowa among males with 20,630 participants, according to the 2013-2014 IHSAA annual participation survey.