It’s a decision that could soon boost the spirits of some Idaho high athletes looking for a few more victories on the field of athletic competition. The Idaho High School Activities Association (IHSAA) board finalized a decision on the classification system Wednesday morning.
It’s a decision that’s entirely based upon competition, one that allows a school that may be constantly finishing in the bottom tier of their conference, to move down a division to become more competitive.
A school’s classification, whether they are 1A or 5A, used to be based on student enrollment. The board will now allow schools to drop divisions if their record shows they are not being competitive.
“They can look at their last two years of history and how competitive they were, and if they're not competitive in sports over that two-year period then they can petition and bring that to the board as well,” said Tol Gropp, who’s the athletic directors representative on the board.
In order to drop down, 75% of the school’s team sports, like football, baseball, basketball, etc., would need to have lost a majority of the time, or two-thirds of their games.
As far as individual sports go, like wresting, track, cross country, etc., athletes have to finish in the bottom half in district meets in 75% of those sports to trigger a change.
“We're trying our best to give every school a chance to have the opportunity to be in the most competitive situation possible,” Gropp said.
“I'm really excited about it, I believe that once our schools take a look at it they're going to see some opportunities to maybe they can help their programs out a bit,” IHSAA Executive Director Ty Jones said.
What this means is one classification could have larger schools mixed in with smaller schools.
“We're just adding a second possibility for them to be able to move either up or down in using some of their history,” Gropp said.
One proposal that was shot down Wednesday morning would have allowed schools to move up or down in division based upon the number of student’s participating in a reduced-lunch program. One superintendent says the move would have made sports more competitive and balanced because schools with higher enrollments in reduced-lunch programs face more obstacles, such as fewer athletes and not as many opportunities for those athletes to attend any off season camps or workouts.
The board says it’s something they are going to need to do a little more research on.
“We're going to continue to look into it, but no it did no pass this time,” Jones said.
The IHSAA board looks into any new classifications for Idaho sports every two years.
Gropp says schools can start petitioning now, but wouldn’t have the opportunity to move divisions until the 2018-2019 school year.