MIDVALE — The public will get a chance to weigh in on whether or not Utah should expand to six classifications in football.
The Utah High School Activities Association's Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve a draft of the 2013 realignment proposal, including the idea of dividing the state into six classifications in football but leaving schools divided into five classification in all other sports.
The public hearing is schedule for March 21 at 6 p.m. at the UHSAA offices, 199 E. 7200 South.
The BOT did make some tweaks to the proposal recommended by the realignment committee and the executive committee last week. First of all, they added ranges to the football classifications, which were originally proposed with hard numbers. The proposal is to have between 24-28 schools in 6A, 26-32 schools in 5A, 14-20 schools in 4A, 12-16 schools in 3A, 10-14 schools in 2A, with at least eight schools being classified as 1A.
The guarantee that 1A will be at least eight schools came after BOT chairman Bill Boyle pointed out that the state needs at least that many schools for a viable classification.
In all other sports and activities, the schools will be divided into five classifications. The ranges are slightly different with 24-28 schools in 5A, 28-32 in 4A, 16-24 in 3A, 16-24 in 2A and the remaining schools in 1A.
UHSAA executive director Rob Cuff answered concerns about finaincial issues. "Certainly securing sites and venues will be an additional cost, but that shouldn't be a deal-breaker," said Cuff. "I know there has been some talk about the fact we're doing this to make money, but this certainly isn't a money-making decision."
In fact, BOT member and co-chair of the realignment committee Paul Schulte reiterated that the proposal originated with the UHSAA's non-boundary committee — not staff or the realignment committee — and that it was a consensus decision to recommend it.
"It really came down to one simple fact," Schulte said. "The committee wanted to try and have schools closer in size competing against each other. Even with more classifications, the schools were more similiar than with fewer classifications. There wasn't any other agenda besides that."
Robert Garlick, Region 12's representative, said the feedback he'd received indicated schools might support six classifications in all sports.
And while others voiced support for the concept, others said it would be far more expensive in other sports than it is in football because of the number of contests. No one made a motion to change all sports and activities to six classifications.
There were several other tweaks to the realignment process. All regions in 2A-5A schools "shall be as equal as feasible" in having the same number of schools in each region. Regardless of the number of schools in a region, each region will qualify the same number of schools for the playoffs (or individuals).
While the BOT divides the state into regions and classification, it is actually the executive committee that determines playoff formats.
Some small schools end up playing in a number of different regions or classifications for different sports like soccer, baseball and football as not all 1A and 2A schools participate in every activity.
IN OTHER ACTION: Concordia Prep reported that academic issues have reduced the number of boys on its basketball team to three. Normally that would mean the end of the season for a team.
But the BOT voted to allow first-year school Legacy Prep to play with Concordia Prep's players and take over its schedule, if logistics can be worked out between the two schools. The team won't be eligible for the playoffs, however, as UHSAA rules don't allow first-year 1A or 2A schools to compete in the post-season.
A motion to allow the Jordan High Football team to compete in a National Under Armour 7-on-7 tournament on July 26 failed. The Beetdiggers are the first Utah team to ever receive an invitation to the prestigious tournament.
The problem is that the Georgia tournament occurs during the three weeks prior to the season, when teams are not allowed to compete against other teams. Beetdigger principal Tom Sherwood pleaded with the BOT to allow the boys (16 members of the team) the opportunity. He suggested it would be good exposure for the state's football programs.
And while some supported making an exception for the school, the majority felt it gave Jordan an unfair competitive advantage. The vote failed, 13-7.