By CLIFF BRUNT
Note: ISL spoke with IHSAA commissioner Bobby Cox this week at the 25th Annual Youthlinks Indiana Charity Golf Tournament presented by Indiana Sports Corp. to discuss the addition of a sixth class in Indiana high school football.
The IHSAA Executive Committee approved a portion of an Indiana Football Coaches Association (IFCA) proposal in adding a sixth classification to the football state tournament beginning in 2013-14.
The current Class 5A will be split in two with the largest 32 schools by enrollment making up Class 6A and schools ranking 33-64 in Class 5A. Each team in those classes would have a bye week to start state tournament play and begin in what is currently the sectional semifinal round.
The remaining schools will be evenly distributed between Classes 4A, 3A, 2A and A and continue playing in a six-week tournament format. The new classifications will be announced next winter followed by the sectional assignments.
The Committee also voted in favor of a two-year tournament success factor in each team sport (baseball, basketball, football, soccer, softball volleyball), an accumulation of points by which any school would move up one class based on tournament series performance during that time.
“The football coaches put together a very good, comprehensive proposal and they did a real good job of studying the issue and surveying their membership,” Cox told Indy Sports Legends. “Subsequently, then, we, in turn surveyed our principals and athletic directors and football coaches, and the reality of the current 5A class is that the bottom enrollment in that class is 1,500 and the top is 4,800. There’s a tremendous disparity there. When you take that group of schools and you cut them in half, you lessen that disparity because now the bottom of 6A will be 2,000-plus students. You still have 4,800 (at the top), but it’s better than it was. I think that the tournament success factor that we passed that would move teams up based on their tournament success will further balance the playing field.”
Members of the IFCA had presented a multiple-part proposal to the IHSAA Executive Committee at its February meeting with the Committee, then opted to table the proposal for continued study during its March gathering. In brief, it included adding a sixth competition class, seeding the top two teams in each sectional and adding a four-year œtradition factor.
The Executive Committee voted to adopt the sixth class (13-5), but rejected seeding the sectionals (1-17) as well as the four-year tradition factor (0-18) in favor of a similar proposal written by Cox calling for a two-year tournament success factor in each team sport (16-2), not just football. On a sport-by-sport basis, schools will earn one point for a sectional championship, two points for a regional championship, three points for a semi-state title and four points for a state title. The maximum number of points a team can earn in a single year is four points. Should a school earn six points or more during a specified two-year period “ for instance two state championship game appearances “ that school would compete in the next higher enrollment class for the ensuing two seasons. Tournament success achieved during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years will be used to determine classifications in 2013-14.
œWe made this class sports initiative 15 years ago and divided up our membership by enrollment, and from that point forward, we haven’t done anything else,” Cox said. “It’s time to do something else. This may not be the right thing, but it’s something, and that’s the important thing. And we have the opportunity to tweak it if we feel that it’s not right.