Valley City Times-Record

High school sports move towards major change

- By Iain Woessner

Following a lengthy discussion over the issue of whether or not to move North Dakota’s schools towards adopting a three-class system for school sports, the North Dakota High School Activities Associatio­n Board of Directors voted unanimousl­y to “accept” a proposal to move high school basketball towards a three-class system, with a caveat that more work will need to be done and reviews on specifics will be made in the near-future.

It was a several-hour long meeting at the AmericInn in Valley City with about 100 member school representa­tives in attendance to hear a proposal from a focus group to the NDHSAA board of directors about their proposal to adjust the class system of high school sports to try and address a disparity in school size and the outcomes of games.

In short, big schools are very big – and in the current two-class system, smaller schools are at a distinct disadvanta­ge. As previously covered in the Times-Record, the proposal heard Thursday by the NDHSAA was backed by a supermajor­ity of schools, over 60%, but there were still many who voiced their concerns and opposition.

There were a number of sticking points for the schools that objected – the presence of a ‘multiplier’ which inflated the population­s of some schools, and thus adjusted their placement in the new class system being chief among them. This multiplier was questioned both in its efficacy as well as its legality, though the focus group did provide the assurance of prestigiou­s North Dakota law firm that such a system was legal.

Regardless, the decision today was not an approval, but an acceptance – in short, the board is committing to honor the desires of the majority of the schools in the state, but is going to not rush to implement the system until more specifics can be hammered out and concerns can be addressed.

As such, nothing will change until the board convenes again on the issue in February. Valley City Superinten­dent Josh Johnson, who sits on the board, said the board had “good discussion” on the three-class plan and that they seem committed to it as they move forward.

This is an ongoing story.

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