A little background: Eighteen months ago Wasatch Academy officials asked the UHSAA if they could simply move their basketball team to a larger classification, but they were told rules would require all of the school’s other sports to move up as well, and that was the end of the discussion (Wasatch’s other sports aren’t competitive, which casts more skepticism on how the school managed to assemble such a great basketball team).
Now Wasatch officials have proposed that their basketball team play as an independent, which means it would no longer compete for a region or state title but would still be allowed to play Utah schools in any classification. This would enable the Tigers to play in more regional tournaments and to accept invitations it has received to serve as ambassadors and teachers of the game abroad. The UHSAA will consider the proposal beginning March 19.
UHSAA director Rob Cuff says it's a win-win proposal, but also notes this will be an important precedent-setting decision. It does not address other potential issues. What if other schools make a similar request and the future of high school basketball is playing regional tournaments, instead of playing for state titles?
Many teams already play out-of-state tournaments. Wouldn’t it have been better to change the rules to allow a school (Wasatch, in this case) to move just one sport up in classification rather than require the same of all its sports? (On a side note, to its credit, Judge Memorial, a private Catholic school, requested and was granted a move from 3A to 4A for all of its teams except football, which is exempt by rule.)
And what about the potential of other private schools, which, like Wasatch Academy, can recruit and scholarship students (who happen to be good athletes)? They could dominate competition a la the Tigers.
Wasatch, which certainly wasn’t benefitting from those 2A routs any more than their opponents, will likely move onward and upward later this month. No one in the 2A ranks will be sorry to see them go.
Doug Robinson's columns run on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org