Re­count passes re­clas­si­fi­ca­tion

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - JEREMY MUCK

The land­scape of Arkansas high school ath­let­ics will change in the fall of 2018.

A pro­posal was passed Mon­day at the Arkansas Ac­tiv­i­ties As­so­ci­a­tion’s gov­ern­ing body an­nual meet­ing at the State­house Con­ven­tion Cen­ter in Lit­tle Rock that will change the clas­si­fi­ca­tion for­mat in all sports other than foot­ball.

It will be ef­fec­tive for the 2018-2020 clas­si­fi­ca­tion cy­cle.

The vote on the pro­posal did not come with­out con­tro­versy.

AAA Pres­i­dent John Ciesla of Green­wood orig­i­nally an­nounced the pro­posal — one *Classes 6A, 5A, 4A of nine be­ing voted on Mon­day — failed, with the to­tal be­ing 141 for and 68 against. There was con­fu­sion over the dis­crep­ancy be­tween the *Classes 6A, 5A, 4A, 3A *En­roll­ment ranges to be de­ter­mined num­ber of vot­ers checked in, which was 216, and the num­ber of votes cast, which was 209.

Ac­cord­ing to Ar­ti­cle X, Sec­tion 2 of the AAA hand­book, a pro­posal will be adopted with a two-thirds ma­jor­ity of those vot­ing.

The orig­i­nal vote’s per­cent­age was cal­cu­lated with 216 — not the 209 that ac­tu­ally voted — and was 65.2 percent.

AAA Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Lance Taylor asked for­mer Vilo­nia ath­letic di­rec­tor Ed Sell­ers, whose school voted against the pro­posal, to help re­count the votes. Once the re­count was fin­ished, Ciesla an­nounced the pro­posal passed with the same 141-68 to­tal.

This time, it was 67.4 percent with the 209 ad­min­is­tra­tors vot­ing.

“We made a mis­take,” Taylor said. “We caught it. We

re­counted our count. They agreed it was cor­rect.”

The pro­posal for bas­ket­ball, base­ball, soft­ball, golf and track will place the top 16 schools by en­roll­ment in Class 6A, or the state’s top 16 foot­ball schools that are cur­rently in Class 7A. The next 32 schools will be in Class 5A, fol­lowed by the next 48 schools in Class 4A. Then, the re­main­ing schools will be di­vided in thirds and placed in Class 3A, 2A and 1A, re­spec­tively.

Cross coun­try, vol­ley­ball, ten­nis and all-girls cheerleading will be bro­ken into five clas­si­fi­ca­tions — Classes 6A, 5A, 4A, 3A and 2A. Soc­cer and bowl­ing will be Classes 6A, 5 A,4 A and 3 A.

Wrestling, swim­ming and div­ing will have three clas­si­fi­ca­tions: Classes 6A, 5A and 4A.

Dance will in­clude Classes 6A, 5A, 4A and 3A. Co-ed cheerleading and game day cheerleading each will have two clas­si­fi­ca­tions.

The AAA went with a blended con­fer­ence setup for the 2016-2018 clas­si­fi­ca­tion cy­cle to help with travel and ex­pen­di­tures. The blended con­fer­ences are used for boys and girls bas­ket­ball, base­ball, soft­ball, boys and girls soc­cer and vol­ley­ball, but not in foot­ball.

But there have been con­cerns with the blended con­fer­ences, in­clud­ing in­creased travel, de­creased gates, dif­fi­cul­ties seeding district tour­na­ments, and se­lect­ing all-con­fer­ence and all-state teams.

Vilo­nia Prin­ci­pal Matt Sewell spoke against the pro­posal be­fore it was voted on Mon­day.

“I hate the blend, just like all of you,” Sewell said. “But I hate pro­posal nine more, be­cause I be­lieve it’s not eq­ui­table for our kids. It’s not con­sis­tent for our schools and com­pe­ti­tion.

“It doesn’t re­solve the travel is­sue, which has and al­ways will be an is­sue. I’d rather have two more years of the blend and dis­cuss bet­ter op­tions than to have this thing shoved down my throat.”

Taylor said the con­fer­ence as­sign­ments will be fi­nal­ized over the next cou­ple of months, with travel as one of the main top­ics.

“We’re al­ways try­ing to look at travel and lis­ten to the schools,” Taylor said. “We can’t please ev­ery­one, but we’re go­ing to do what’s right.”

AAA as­so­ciate ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Steve Roberts pre­sented the clas­si­fi­ca­tion pro­posal at the as­so­ci­a­tion’s sum­mer work­shop meet­ing in June. It was ap­proved with a “do pass” mo­tion at the work­shop while another clas­si­fi­ca­tion pro­posal brought to the AAA from Ac­tiv­ity District 2 — made up of schools from north cen­tral Arkansas — re­ceived a “do not pass” mo­tion. The ac­tiv­ity district’s pro­posal failed Mon­day at the gov­ern­ing body, with a vote of 183 against and 30 for.

Arkansas will join sev­eral neigh­bor­ing states that use dif­fer­ent classes for dif­fer­ent sports.

Ten­nessee uses six classes for foot­ball; three for bas­ket­ball, base­ball, soft­ball and vol­ley­ball; and two for soc­cer, ten­nis, golf and cross coun­try. Mis­souri has six classes for foot­ball; five for bas­ket­ball, base­ball and track and field; four for soft­ball, soc­cer, vol­ley­ball, wrestling and boys golf; and two for ten­nis and girls golf. In Ok­la­homa, there’s eight classes for foot­ball; seven for bas­ket­ball, base­ball and soft­ball; six for track and field; four for vol­ley­ball; and three for soc­cer.

Another high-pro­file pro­posal pre­sented Mon­day was on lim­it­ing sum­mer com­pe­ti­tion days, which stated the pur­pose was to lessen the fi­nan­cial and phys­i­cal de­mands of sum­mer sports par­tic­i­pa­tion. The pro­posal, which would limit schools to eight com­pe­ti­tion days per team dur­ing the sum­mer and lim­its ath­letes to eight com­pe­ti­tion days per sport dur­ing the sum­mer break, passed 210-94 de­spite ob­jec­tions from the Arkansas Foot­ball Coaches As­so­ci­a­tion ear­lier this sum­mer. It also in­cludes but is not lim­ited to camps, 7-on-7 com­pe­ti­tions, tour­na­ments, among other events.

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