Colorado High School Basketball to Implement Shot Clock in 2026-27 Season

CHSAA approves 35-second shot clock for varsity basketball, sanctions girls flag football, and expands postseason format for top classes, marking major changes for Colorado high school sports.

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Colorado High School Basketball to Implement Shot Clock in 2026-27 Season

Colorado High School Basketball to Implement Shot Clock in 2026-27 Season

The Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) has approved the implementation of a 35-second shot clock for all classifications of boys and girls basketball starting in the 2026-27 season. The decision, which aims to bring Colorado's high school basketball in line with the national standard set by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), was made during CHSAA's Legislative Council meeting on April 23, 2024, with a 40-30 vote.

The shot clock will apply to varsity play only, as smaller and rural school districts raised concerns about the financial impact of implementing shot clocks at all levels. The estimated cost per school ranges from $3,000 to $10,000, depending on the current electrical infrastructure. Coaches have largely supported the shot clock measure, citing benefits such as a better pace of play, player development for the next level, and the elimination of 'stall ball'.

In addition to the shot clock implementation, CHSAA has approved several other key changes for high school sports in Colorado. Girls flag football will be sanctioned as the 33rd sport and 18th girls sport in the state, with the first state champion crowned in fall 2024. There will be two classifications for the sport in its first season if at least 50 schools sponsor a team. The postseason format for Class 6A and 5A basketball will also be expanded from 32 to 40 teams, with the top 24 teams earning a bye in the first round.

Why this matters: The implementation of a shot clock in Colorado high school basketball marks a significant step towards aligning the state's rules with national standards. This change is expected to enhance the game experience for players, coaches, and fans, while also better preparing student-athletes for collegiate and professional play.

CHSAA commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green expressed enthusiasm for the sanctioning of girls flag football, stating that it promotes empowerment, teamwork, and inclusivity for female athletes. The addition of the shot clock is seen as the biggest fundamental change to high school basketball in Colorado since the introduction of the 3-point line in 1987-88. CHSAA officials are also considering a pilot program for the shot clock as early as the 2025-26 season, which would require approval from the CHSAA Legislative Committee.

Key Takeaways

  • CHSAA approves 35-second shot clock for varsity basketball starting 2026-27 season.
  • Shot clock to apply only to varsity play due to cost concerns for smaller schools.
  • CHSAA sanctions girls flag football as 33rd sport, with first state champion in fall 2024.
  • Postseason format for Class 6A and 5A basketball expanded from 32 to 40 teams.
  • Shot clock implementation seen as biggest change to Colorado high school basketball since 3-point line.