UHSAA board of trustees finalizes classifications, regions for 2019-2021

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Mekelee Gautavai of East sets his team up for their only touchdown against Bingham as he's stopped at the one yard line on Friday, Aug. 24, 2018 at East. Bingham won 30-8.

Midvale • The Utah High School Activities Association board of trustees on Thursday unanimously approved the final realignment of classifications and regions for every school for the 2019-2021 period.

After the realignment was approved, the board as a whole agreed some major changes may have to be made in how they choose next alignment. Because of a discrepancy between rural and urban schools in the state, coupled with the desire for competitive balance and a success-based format, the board could move away from geography- and school size-based methods of aligning schools.

“We definitely have to make some probably major changes or a major shift in the way we do alignment to take care of a lot of the problems our schools presented [Wednesday] night as far as equity and fairness,” said Dale Whitlock, chair of the board of trustees.

Two schools moved classifications in all sports except football, while many others changed regions within their already-proposed classifications.

All regions in classes 3A and 4A remained unchanged for all activities except football, compared to last week’s proposal.

For the football-only classifications and regions, 6A remained the same, Park City fell from 5A to 4A and Juan Diego jumped to 3A from 4A.

East ended up in Region 3 of 6A in all sports. In the prior alignment proposal, it was placed in that classification for football only and was to compete in 5A in every other sport.

Greg Maughan, the principal at East, requested during Wednesday’s public hearing on the board’s latest proposal that the school stay in Region 6 of 5A in all sports except football. The board proposed putting East in Region 5.

Maughan said East should be in Region 2 of 6A in football. A parent from East spoke to the board as well, arguing that the school should just be in 6A for everything.

“Geographically, there’s enough schools around,” the parent said. “Let them just play in the valley. It’ll make everybody’s commute time better.”

West and Herriman moved to Region 3 after being proposed for Region 2 and 4, respectively. Corner Canyon moved to Region 4 from Region 3. Davis moved to Region 1 in 6A. Last week, it was proposed for Region 3.

Farmington, proposed to land in Region 3 of 6A, moved to Region 5 of 5A. Farmington principal Rich Swanson, in tandem with Davis principal Gregory Wilkey, recommended the shift to 5A to the board Wednesday in an impassioned speech focusing on academics over sports.

“We’re an organization that revolves around students,” Swanson said while citing the number of times the word “student” appears in the UHSAA handbook. “We revolve around learning and what takes place in the classroom before we do what takes place on the court or on the field.”

Swanson argued that with the board’s proposal to put Farmington and Davis in Region 3, travel time would increase four-fold and force student-athletes at both schools to miss four more classes per week on average.

Wilkey said that before Wednesday, he had never before addressed the board in regards to realignment. But the board’s proposal to put Davis in Region 3 compelled him to appear, he said.

Highland moved to Region 6 from Region 5 in 5A. The school’s principal, Chris Jansen, also spoke to the board Wednesday to appeal its proposed move. For the past two years, Highland has been in Region 6, a location Jansen called “timely.”

Jansen said the school has seen significant attendance and interest increases, plus growth in girls sports due to competing in Region 6. He argued leaving the region would jeopardize that growth due to increased travel.

In last week’s proposal, 1A went from four regions to two divisions. But after some concern Wednesday from representatives of that classification, the board decided to revert to four regions within 1A.