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Prep football: Realignment to be based on tourney success

Published June 18, 2014 1:53 pm

Prep football • UHSAA board backs scheme based on playoff performance.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Midvale • The Utah High School Activities Association's board of trustees voted overwhelmingly Thursday to try an experiment in football utilizing a complicated formula based on state tournament performance to determine what classification a school will be assigned.

The board then scheduled a public hearing on the proposal Aug. 27 at 6:30 p.m. at UHSAA offices in Midvale. The proposal will be put on the UHSAA's website at UHSAA.org where the public can also comment on the proposal.

Barring overwhelmingly negative public response or unexpected reversals by trustees, the measure then will be adopted on Aug. 28, before realignment begins in earnest in November.

The always controversial realignment process will be undertaken in November after two years under the current system.

Under the proposal voted on by the trustees, a formula that utilizes state tournament performances in football the past four years will be used to determine where a school will be placed in the state's six football classifications. This will apply only to football. Enrollment numbers will be artificially inflated for realignment purposes based on state tournament performances.

This was a reaction to Ogden School District and Kearns High School requesting that socioeconomic factors such as graduation rates and poverty rates be considered along with enrollment numbers when assigning classifications.

The proposal also will increase the percentage of schools "on classification bubble" from three to five percent, thus giving the realignment committee more discretion in placing teams.

"Some say this proposal penalizes success," said UHSAA executive director Rob Cuff. "A 1A team that has won four state championships finds itself on the edge of leaving 1A and moving into 2A. Some coaches would welcome that. Others would like to continue to be the big dog. On the flip side, this could help level the playing field. … The only place where we can try it is football. We won't know whether it will work unless we try it."

Though the new alignment proposal will likely affect bigger schools more than smaller ones, much of the opposition came from 1A and 2A schools.

For example, North Summit principal Russ Hendry said he has a difficult time voting to basically penalize success when he isn't sure a school or community has done everything possible to hire quality coaches to establish a successful program.

Granger principal Jerry Haslam, a former football coach, said safety in football is part of the issue. He supported the proposal because it offered some relief without causing unintended consequences.

St. Joseph board member Norm Allred said perhaps success should be used to classify all schools in all sports, as is done in some parts of the country.

In Illinois, for example, schools are placed into regions based on proximity and rivals, but a region might have institutions in two or three different classifications. Power rankings are used to place teams into postseason competition.

In other news:

• Jeff Cluff, who has served as director of media relations for Dixie State's athletic program, will replace the retiring Mike Petty as UHSAA director of officials.

• Kevin Dustin, a UHSAA assistant director, announced he was leaving the organization to take the job as the athletic director at Salt Lake Community College.

• Cuff went through concerns of a recent Utah Legislature audit of the UHSAA that addressed lack of parent involvement in the organization's policy as well as transfer rules.

• Media rights to televise or broadcast UHSAA events generated over $100,000 last year.

• Farmers Insurance has withdrawn from being a UHSAA corporate sponsor.

• Cuff is studying potential policies regarding transgender athletes and foreign exchange students.

• 108 of the UHSAA's 138 member schools earned sportsmanship awards this year.

wharton@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribtomwharton