A conference alignment has been arranged for the 1989-90 school year for Regions 2 and 3, Salt Lake City's pair of 4A prep leagues.
And after the much-ballyhooed proposal to take the 14 teams - 15 the following year - and establish a three-division conference, the approved alignment looks suspiciously like a two-region format.Administrators last weekend approved the two-region separation, establishing an east-west split among the 15 teams. Region 2 is comprised of Alta, Brighton, Cottonwood, East, Highland, Olympus and Skyline, while Region 3 is to include Bingham, Cyprus, Granger, Hillcrest, Kearns, Taylorsville and West Jordan.
To accommodate the east-west (or northeast-southwest) division, Hillcrest moves across the imaginary dividing lines of State Street or I-15 to join Region 3. The two conferences are fairly balanced as far as representation from the Granite and Jordan school districts.
The 14 schools had been involved in a heated debate over recent realignment proposals. When the Utah High School Activities Association's legislative council met recently to approve region realignments statewide for the coming four years, it needed to amend the proposal to allow Salt Lake, Granite and Jordan school districts to work out their own "conference" alignments for the schools comprising Regions 2 and 3 for the 1989-90 school year.
The orginal proposal - Alta, Brighton, Bingham, Hillcrest, West Jordan, Skyline and Olympus comprising Region 2 and the others making up Region 3 - met with considerable opposition, most notably from the Granite School District. In turn, Granite administrators offered a new-look three-division play for the 14 current member schools.
However, the divisional arrangements received a more critical response in the coming weeks as administrators, coaches and officials discovered some flaws, particularly in season scheduling and the seeding of teams in state tournaments.
Dee Burton, UHSAA associate director, cited examples of tie records following divisional competition and possible multiple-day regional tournaments for the 14 member schools to qualify for state playoffs in some sports. "And (UHSAA Executive Director) Glen Beere said that with a three-conference system, a conference winner could actually go to the state tournament as a third-place (seeded) team," Burton said.
Tie-breakers would ultimately revert to a points-scored process, which might result in teams running up a score for the benefit of a higher state- tournament seed, Burton added. "And that's not what sports is all about - it just deters from sportsmanship."
The current two-conference - or two-region alignment - for the 14 schools will last only for the 1989-90 school year - the single year allowed when the amended realignment proposal was adopted by the UHSAA legislative council. However, Burton said most hope that it will be acceptable by all involved - the member schools and the UHSAA and its council - for the following three years as well.
Meanwhile, some say they see the current two-conference split as underscoring the social and economic divisions between the valley's east and west sides.
However, Burton downplayed such a determining factor as being used as a criteria by those involved on the division decision. "They don't want it to be seen as an east-west split," he said. "I think they tried to get away from that."