MIDVALE Soaring gas prices and time out of school have the state's superintendents considering cutting the number of games student-athletes play.
The Utah School Superintendents Association has proposed reducing 5A and 4A contests by 2.86 percent, 3A games by 13.81 percent and 1A and 2A contests by 17.14 percent. The proposal was discussed in the Executive Committee meeting of the Utah High School Activities Association on Wednesday.
The reductions in 4A and 5A would come from reducing baseball by two games, wrestling by two credits and softball by two games. In 3A, cross country, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track, volleyball, wrestling and speech all lost contests.
In 1A and 2A, only drill team, football and music would remain the same.
Football games weren't reduced in any of the classifications. All teams are allowed nine football games each season.
Highland principal Paul Schulte worried about moving too quickly on the complex situations.
"I'm really concerned about a quick fix," he said. "I'm concerned about just putting Band-Aids on things. We need to go slowly and do a very thorough investigation so we get a really good decision."
A number of principals were opposed to the idea of the UHSAA reducing the number of contests, saying instead that should be up to individual districts.
"Why can't the superintendent of the district dictate to the school how many games they can play?" said George Bruce, Region 18's representative. "We do things to save money. ... I don't think my kids should be subject to 36 less contests when 4A and 5A only lose six. We're no different than they are. My kids want to play."
Some support the reductions because so much is asked of modern prep athletes.
"I think there are other things to consider besides just travel," said Dean Fowles. "These kids don't have a night to themselves. They don't have a day during the summer."
Others wondered what other options were being discussed to save money and eliminate time out of classes.
"Is there any other proposal out there other than cutting games?" said Dave McKee, Region 4's representative. "A lot of other things could be done to save money. ... Ultimately, I think we hurt kids that way."
A survey of the state's 15 superintendents revealed that 13 of them support the reductions, while two are opposed.
Also, 1A and 2A superintendents voted to support the cuts, regardless of what the other classifications do, but 3A superintendents were only supportive of the recommendations if 4A and 5A also made reductions.
If adopted, the reductions could pose a problem in the St. George-area schools, as they have four 3A schools and three 4A schools, some within minutes of each other, and that may cause students to try and transfer from 3A schools to 4A schools in an effort to play more games.
"Politically, that's a nightmare for us," said Craig Hammer.
The proposal was presented to the Board of Trustees two weeks ago, which chose to form a committee that would look at all options, including reducing the number of games played. The Executive Committee chose a principal from each classification to participate in the BOT's work group, which is planning to meet later this month.
The principals who volunteered to serve on the BOT's contest reduction committee are Paul Argyle (5A), Dee Ashcroft (4A), Paul Sweat (3A), Scott Doubek (2A), and Betty Ann Rember (1A).
The committee hopes to report on their findings at the UHSAA's November meeting.
In other action:
The Executive Committee voted unanimously to recommend the Board of Trustees reconsider moving Uintah into 4A's Rregion 8 and move Provo into Rregion 7 in the new realignment that begins in 2009.
Currently, Uintah will play in 3A's Rregion 10 during league play, but will compete in 4A's Rregion 8 for state tournament competition. It was decided earlier Wednesday during classification meetings that individual sport athletes like swimming and golf will compete in Rregion 8 all season long.
The issue, which is strictly the jurisdiction of the BOT, arose when principals were trying to decide how to represent Uintah and Rregion 9, which is made up of four 3A schools and four 4A schools.
"This is one of the practical problems of split regions," said Craig Hammer. "This is a management issue. The BOT does policy ... We're going down this new road and it's a tough deal."
Hammer plans to write a letter to the BOT explaining why Rregion 9 administrators need representatives from both the 3A Rregion 9 group and the 4A Rregion 9 group on the Executive Committee. It was after that discussion that John Penrod, Rregion 7, moved to recommend the BOT reconsider Uintah's situation and the motion was seconded by Rregion 10's Paul Sweat. It passed unanimously.
The motion made it clear that the only reason they hoped the issue could be reconsidered is because the bracketing issues and issues of representation were easily solved by just moving Uintah up to 4A, which is where the BOT originally placed the school. Uintah administrators attended a hearing on the first draft, which had them in Rregion 8, and said the increased travel was the biggest concern for the school. Penrod said this issue might never have occurred had Uintah just gone 4A from the start.
Still, he said, the decision to make them play 3A all year and then compete in 4A in the post-season was problematic."This would clean it up all the way around," said Penrod. None of the 5A principals voted on the issue.
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