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Prep football: UHSAA rejects tournament success as realignment factor

Published September 11, 2014 10:33 pm

High school football • Board increases percentage of "bubble" schools eligible for reclassification from 3 perecent to 5 percent.
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Midvale • The Board of Trustees of the Utah High School Activities Association rejected a controversial proposal that would have used state tournament success as a factor in determining the classification of prep football teams when it met Thursday.

The proposal was designed as a potential way to help mitigate socioeconomic factors that may be contributing to the lack of football success by some of the state's schools. It could have also resulted in moving successful programs such as Timpview and Duchesne into a higher classification, a factor that ultimately may have killed it.

Instead, the UHSAA board elected to increase the percentage of "bubble" schools to be considered for reclassification from 3 to 5 percent.

That increases the flexibility of the realignment committee to move schools that are close to the enrollment numbers that determine classifications to move up or down.

This means that once schools are initially aligned into classifications, any school with a classification enrollment plus or minus five percent of the school with the highest enrollment in a classification shall be considered tied in enrollment.

That gives the UHSAA more flexibility in assigning schools to a classification and a region. Factors such as travel, natural rivalries, success and socioeconomics might be considered in deciding whether a "bubble" school is assigned a higher or lower classification.

The UHSAA goes through a realignment process every two years. The UHSAA expects to receive current school enrollment numbers by mid-November. That's when its staff will assign schools to six classifications in football and five in other sports as well as putting schools in regions.

A public hearing on the classification proposal for the 2015-17 seasons will be held Nov. 19 at 6:30 p.m. This is where school officials who wish to move up or down a classification or to be assigned to a region can make proposals.

The Board of Trustees will come up with a preliminary realignment recommendation at its Nov. 20 meeting, A public hearing will be held Dec. 3 at 6:30 p.m. on those recommendations with the proposal finalized by the Board of Trustees on Dec. 4.

In other UHSAA Board of Trustees news Thursday:

• UHSAA executive director Rob Cuff presented a record $2.5 million operating budget for the coming year. The addition of schools and a sixth classification in football increased both revenue and expenses.

• Two of the state's smallest high schools, West Desert and EskDale, each have only seven students. The board allowed them to combine into a single school to compete in boys' basketball this season. The schools are about 40 miles apart near the Utah-Nevada border.

• The UHSAA has made the calendar on its UHSAA.org website more interactive.

• The UHSAA needs more officials at all levels at all sports. Arbiter Jeff Cluff said there is a particular need for volleyball and soccer referees. Those interested should contact the UHSAA office.

• Cuff said the goal of the summer moratorium is to have entire schools have all sports off at the same time as part of a summer moratorium, making it easier for families who have children playing different sports to plan a vacation.

• The UHSAA approved football and girls' and boys' basketball teams' participation in the Paragon State Champions series if they are invited. Last season, the Fremont girls' team played in Madison Square Garden after the season. The Paragon State Championship Football Bowl Series will be held in Miami on Dec. 27. Only four state champions nationwide will be invited to the inaugural football event, which will be televised on ESPN.

wharton@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribtomwharton