Private high school sports dynasties may become a thing of the past thanks to a new policy change voted on approved by the Missouri State High School Activities Association.
Earlier this year, Proposal 10 – Competitive Equity between Public and Non-Public Schools, passed by a 294 – 133 vote of MSHSAA voting members, amending By-Law 5.1.5, entitled Co-Ed Enrollments.
The policy change will remove the 1.35 enrollment multiplier that is currently in place for non-public and charter schools, and replaces it with New By-Law 5.1.7, Championship Factor, which will reclassify non-public and charter schools based on a point system connected to advancement in districts and the state series over a six-year period.
The rule, which will not become effective until July 1, 2020, will benefit private schools that have not fared better than the average public schools in a particular sport, with the potential of forcing the more successful private school sports programs to jump up to the next level of competition.
Jason West, MSHSAA Communications Director, explained that the new rule will be administered on a program by program basis, meaning that private schools may be competing in different classes in different sports.
“Each team will be evaluated based on its post-season finishes, so there may be cases where a boys basketball team could be Class 1 and a girls basketball team could be Class 3,” said West. “A team can only be moved up two classes from its enrollment classification.”
The new point system will only be utilized for private schools. Public schools, such as Strafford, which won the past four consecutive girls state basketball titles, will remain classified solely on enrollment figures.
While the Show-Me State’s high school championships have witnessed more fluidity in recent years than back when Valle Catholic had a stranglehold on Class 1 football, winning five straight championships in the early 90s and finishing first or second every year between 2009 and 2017 the regular presence of the same private programs year in and year out in the state championship tournaments helped pave the path to the rule change.
However West is quick to point out, that the rule proposal actually was first put forward by private school administrators.
“There was an ad hoc committee meeting on Proposal 9, during those meetings the topic of separate championships for public and non-public came up,” said West. “After discussing the possibility of having separate classifications a group of administrators started exploring this possibility.”
Now the MSHSAA Board will be tasked with finalizing the points system prior to its implementation for the 2020-21 seasons.
“The Board will need to finalize the levels in which points are awarded, i.e.- district title, quarterfinal win, state championship, etc., how many points each level is worth as well as what thresholds need to be met in order to be moved,” said West. “Samples were provided to the membership in order to paint a picture of what the system would look like, however the Board needs to finalize the actual numbers to use.”
The changes will be implemented in conjunction with Proposal 9, which also will take effect July 1, 2020.
This rule change will address widening gaps in enrollment numbers in the current classification system.
“The ultimate goal is to keep the difference between the largest school in the classification and the smallest school as close to 2.0 as possible,” said West. “But to also keep a balance in the number of schools in each classification.”
West said the new system will be similar to the old, with Class 1 remaining the smallest, and the remaining classes divided as evenly as possible in the remaining classes. However to promote less diversity in enrollment sizes, MSHSAA will likely be forced to create additional classes in some sports.
“11-man football will certainly remain at 6 classes for the time being, as it will still keep the current classification breakdown policy,” said West. ” Almost every other sports will likely see more classes. Basketball will be one that will also have 6 classes.”
How will that impact Scotland County? It doesn’t sound like much will change on the gridiron, as football should stay at six divisions and SCR-I sits firmly in the middle of class 1 status with an enrollment of 129, and the Class 1 cutoff last year at 188.
Basketball may be a different story. If six classes are indeed formed, it stands to reason that the top portion of each of the current five classes, will likely move up in 2020-21.
Based on last year’s MSHSAA numbers, SCR-I was closer to the bottom of the Class 2 breakdown of 93, than the top at 177, so unless there are dramatic changes, the Tigers and Lady Tigers look to remain Class 2 in basketball for the foreseeable future. The same can be said for baseball.
Softball is where things could see a change. SCR-I currently is right on the borderline between Class 1 and 2, so if softball expands beyond its current four class breakdown, SCR-I likely would rest more firmly in the Class 2 range.
The same thing goes for track, where the Tigers and Lady Tigers were at the top of the Class 1 enrollment range in 2018-19 and would likely see a bump back to Class 2 if the sport transitions from five to six districts like football.