UHSAA looks to make alignment rule changes for 2011
The Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) may adopt a new procedure to align member schools into classifications and regions. If approved, the new alignment procedure could be in place for the 2011-12 school year.
The new procedure could have some mixed results, however. While it would solve some problems, it may create a list of new ones.
Presently schools are assigned to regions based on size and geography, with geography weighing less in the formula. A lot of 1A schools have to travel long distances to play others in their regions. Some 2A and 3A schools face the same problems and that brings in the situation where the school that is visiting often doesn't bring much of a crowd. This hurts the gate at the school being visited. Mileage and natural rivalries are often also affected by changes.
One of the differences with the new proposal is that changes in regions and opponents could come a lot faster than in the past.
"I worry about developing rivalries under this new system," said Greg Stanfield, the principal at Carbon High on Wednesday morning. "We just started in our new region last year and if we were going to change again this next year, where would that spirit come from?"
According to the organization, the proposal is an attempt by the UHSAA to make the realignment process more objective, efficient, timely and equitable for post season bracketing.
The proposal addresses realignment on a number of dimensions, including:
*Standardizing the number of schools in each classification.
*Standardizing the number and size of regions in each classification.
*Adjusting alignment every two years.
*Eliminating regions split between classifications.
*Using junior and senior class enrollment numbers.
*Creating a realignment classification committee
At the current time, realignment takes place on a four-year cycle, with a window every two years to make "catastrophic" adjustments.
"For the teams that are more isolated (travel-wise) such as us there are some good things in this proposal," said Stanfield. "The regions would be bigger so we would have more teams to play in the regular season and that would be a plus."
Stanfield explained that Carbon can often schedule games at many schools away from Carbon County, but it is sometimes hard to get those same schools to return the favor, and not all of it is by choice of the school involved.
"Look at the southern Utah schools," he said. "They have a mileage limit as to how far they can go. The way it works out for some of them is that they can drive up to Emery and play there, but we are just beyond that mileage barrier so they can't come up and play us in preseason."
But overall he is worried about what has been happening since the recent change.
"Our crowds and gate attendance was down this year because some of the schools we play in the regular season just don't have people who want to drive here," he said. "We also found our people are not going there as much. We have expenses to pay and that lost attendance hurts us and them."
Many in the area have lamented the fact that Carbon was placed in a region last year that contained literally no rivals from the past. Emery was the most often mentioned one from locals, but they also miss the challenges of playing North Sanpete and Delta. Now Richfield is in the region those teams are in and it, at one time before it went to 2A, was also a good rivalry.
The UHSAA says the most recent alignment, which began in 2009, has faced a number of challenges due to changing enrollment in many schools, the transient nature of many school populations, geographic challenges and concern about the definition of "catastrophic".
Under the proposed procedure, members of the realignment classification committee will study enrollment data and trends and recommend the number of schools and regions for each classification. Each classification will have two or four regions, with an equal number of schools in each region. The 1A classification may be the exception out of geographic necessity.
Under the proposal, the UHSAA Board of Trustees will review and gather input from member schools and districts regarding the recommendation and adopt a final alignment plan prior to Oct. 1.
As proposed, once Oct. 1 enrollment numbers are released by the Utah State Office of Education, schools will be assigned to a classification based on enrollment in grades 11 and 12. This gives consideration to schools with high mobility rates, which may see a decline in enrollment between tenth and twelfth grades.
Once schools are assigned to a classification, they will be assigned to regions within their classifications. The assignment of schools to regions will be completed in November, allowing time for schools and the new regions to organize and schedule for the two-year alignment period.
The first contests under the new alignment will take place the following August. By doing that the enrollment data upon which the alignment is based will be less than one year old.
Under the current procedure, school enrollment data is more than 22 months old prior to the first contests. When the last contest is played under the current system, the enrollment numbers on which the alignment was based are nearly six years old.
A two year, rather than four year, alignment period allows for adjustments more often as enrollments rise and fall at a number of schools. It is hoped that this method of assigning schools to classifications will increase fairness and efficiency.
The UHSAA Board of Trustees retains the responsibility for realignment. UHSAA member schools and districts maintain the ability to influence the alignment process through input in determining the number of schools and regions for each classification.
The ad-hoc committee which brought the proposal for changes to the UHSAA Board of Trustees explained that the revisions are proactive rather than reactive. Under it the number of schools in a classification is predetermined, rather than using enrollment figures with a cutoff number.
The proposal will also reflect current trends in school enrollment as the process occurs every two years rather than four years. It provides for equity between regions in qualification for the post-season. In addition, with equal-sized regions, the seeding process into post-season tournaments may become more fair and consistent.
The UHSAA board is made up of various administrators and other officials from the various regions across the state. Presently Carbon School Board President Barry Deeter is on the board as a representative from Region 8.
In an attempt to get feedback from the various groups who have an interest in the change, the UHSAA will hold a public hearing at 5 p.m. on Aug. 25, 2010, at the UHSAA office (199 E. 7200 S. in Midvale).
In addition to the hearing on Aug. 25, the UHSAA is seeking comment on the proposed changes. To provide input on the proposed alignment procedure, please use the following link: http://www.uhsaa.org/realignment/comment.htm.