KSHSAA announces split of Class 4A
KVL principals discuss division of 64-school class
Just as the disparity in Class 4A has gradually inflated, competitive disadvantages have become more and more of a concern in recent years. Tuesday morning, both issues officially became null and void.
The Kansas State High School Activities Association announced Tuesday that the 64-school classification will be split into two 32-team divisions in football, volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball.
The proposal, originally issued last year by the Big Seven League, passed by a 42-22 vote. The split will go into effect immediately for volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball. Football is in the middle of its current two-year district cycle, so it will split in 2014.
In 2012-13, 4A had a disparity ratio of 2.83, meaning the largest school (Highland Park, enrollment of 729) was 283 percent larger than the smallest schools (Frontenac and Rock Creek, 258). The disparity has increased over the last decade, growing more than 50 percent since 2003-04. No other class larger than 1A ever had a ratio larger than 1.98 during that span.
The split results in two divisions — 4A-DI and 4A-DII — with ratios of less than 1.7.
The split affects the Kaw Valley League, which has five 4A members. Bonner Springs (708), Basehor-Linwood (599), Tonganoxie (595) and Piper (563) will be in the larger division, while Bishop Ward will be in the smaller division. Ward’s 2012-13 enrollment of 354 was 209 fewer than the next-smallest league school.
Class 5A schools Mill Valley (1,222), Turner (1,102) and Lansing (878) round out the league’s membership.
KVL principals discussed the proposal and ultimately decided to support the idea. The league sent a letter of support to KSHSAA on Oct. 10, 2012.
“After a lengthy discussion, we realized that one school in our league is significantly smaller than the others,” Tonganoxie principal Jamie Carlisle said. “We came to the conclusion as a league that, if a decision was going to benefit one of our schools and not hurt the other schools, then it was a good decision.”
The KVL was one of nine leagues to submit letters of support. The Frontier League — comprised of seven 4A schools — was the only league to oppose the proposal.
Nearly all potential 4A-DI schools are located in the eastern half of the state, so travel and scheduling won’t be heavily affected. The smaller division is more spread out, which will likely lead to increased travel in the postseason.
“Those types of things were discussed, but we felt they were less important than giving all schools and opportunity to compete,” said Bonner Springs principal Joe Hornback, the KVL president for the upcoming year. “We’ve seen the competitive balance in our league with Ward be pretty wide. Ward said (a split) would benefit them, so as a league, we decided to support it.”
Piper principal Tim Conrad, last year’s league president, echoed Hornback’s thoughts, saying the proposal’s overall intent outweighed any possible ramifications.
“I think it was an easy decision,” Conrad said. “We stood tall in our decision to support it.”
Ward’s competitive disadvantage is indicative of the current statewide imbalance. Over the last five years, larger 4A schools have won 80 percent of the state titles in the five aforementioned sports.
The split will result in new postseason formats for all sports. Football will no longer require a bi-district round since each division only has 32 teams. Volleyball and basketball will have eight four-team sub-states in each division.
Baseball and softball divisions will fluctuate from year to year because the number of cooperative teams isn’t always the same, but each division will have eight regional tournaments with four or five teams apiece.
Ballots were sent to all 4A schools on April 30. The proposal needed 33 or more votes to pass. For a school’s vote to be valid, the ballot had include signatures from the principal and superintendent.