Six class system introduced
After a large change in the way the Georgia High School Association does things, both Newton and Alcovy will compete in the state’s largest classification.
The Rams and Tigers move up to Class AAAAAA, the state’s newest classification after the GHSA initiated a new six-class system during the spring.
The GHSA executive committee passed the new classification system for the state’s more than 400 schools by a vote of 26-24. Prior to this season, the state had used a five-classification system for the previous decade.
The six-class plan was voted down in favor of a four class/eight championship plan in March, but talks resumed and eventually led to its passing in May, after the 4/8 plan was defeated 35-15.
Among many other changes, the new plan lifted Newton from Region 2-AAAAA to Region 2-AAAAAAA, and Alcovy from Region 3-AAAA to Region 2-AAAAAAA. Eastside moves up from Region 4-AAA to Region 8-AAAA and Social Circle from 8-A to 8-AA.
Alcovy leaves a region with Jones County, Griffin, Union Grove, Dutch- town, Woodland, and Ola for one with Druid Hills, Lovejoy, Morrow, Newton, Rockdale and Luella. The Rams come into Region 2-AAAAAA from a region including M.L. King, Stephenson, East Coweta, Newnan, Westlake, Luella and Langston Hughes.
Eastside moves to a region, which included Johnson, Gainesville, Lumpkin County, Madison County, Monroe Area, Stephens County, Chestatee, Walnut Grove and Lanier after competing against Sandy Creek, Stockbridge, Drew, Henry County, Jackson, Locust Grove, Spalding and Eagles Landing in 2011.
Social Circle will have one familiar opponent in 2012, taking Riverside Military with it from Region 8-A to Region 8-AA. In 2011, the Redskins competed against Prince Avenue Christian, George Walton Academy, Athens Academy, Commerce, Hebron Christian Academy, Athens Christian, Riverside Military, Lakeview Academy and Towns County. This year, Social Circle will be joined by Washington-Wilkes, Riverside Military, Greene County, Jefferson, Oglethorpe County, Rabun County, Social Circle and Union County.
Shortly after reclassifi- cation committee chairman and designer of the 4/8 plan Earl Etheridge made his presentation, it was evident the plan had no momentum. Hunter and several other executive committee members expressed their opposition to the plan. Soon after, Swearngin circulated a memo outlining the challenges the GHSA would face in each sport by expanding to eight state championships. Issues included finding multiple sites to host championships and how it would strain existing contracts with corporate sponsors.
The 4/8 plan was then squashed by vote. A motion was made by Raynette Evans, a 4/8 proponent, to amend the current five-classification plan, which Hunter rejected. Evans also argued that 4/8 plan had been heavily scrutinized, and that not much was known about the six-classification plan. Hunter then moved for a vote on his plan.
“Knowing the way things have gone down the past two weeks, nothing surprises me about what happened,” Etheridge said. “I think the best thing to do, when you get beat, is to suck it up and go about your business. All I can do if I say something is be misinterpreted.”
Wood believes that although the six-classification plan hasn’t been scrutinized to the level of the 4/8 plan, there was enough information available on the six-classification plan to make an educated vote in favor of it.
“I think most people had an idea of both plans coming in,” Wood said. “We’ve been given the information in plenty of time. I’ve studied it and sent it out to every school in my region to look at. I had gotten their votes and known their sentiments; I knew exactly how to vote for my region today.
“I don’t know how other members feel about that, but I was prepared.”
With the passing of the six-classification plan, Swearngin said the GHSA will move forward accordingly.
“As far as everything is concerned, (the six-classification plan) is what we’ll go on when we start looking through the data next October (when the latest FTE accounts are released and classifications and regions can be assigned).”
The six-classification plan divided schools in percentages of 15-15-1616-16-22, from classifications 6A to A, respectively.