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NIAA approves more realignment

Steve Puterski
SPuterski@LahontanValleyNews.com

RENO, Nev. – Realignment, again, is one step closer to reality for Nevada high school athletics.

At its meeting in Reno on Sept. 8, the realignment committee of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association approved its 2012 plan with one noticeable difference.

The change is for the NIAA to eliminate the classification system (4A, 3A, etc.) and replace it with a Division model. Division I will be the former 4A, Division I-A (3A), Division III (2A) and Division IV (1A).

Donnie Nelson, assistant director of the NIAA, said the proposal still needs final approval from the NIAA Board of Control. He expects the plan to be passed during the Oct. 3-4 meeting at South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

In addition, Nelson added the postseason tournament formats will most likely be approved at the December meeting.

The Northern Region of Division I will feature 12 schools including Wooster, who will participate in football in 2012. Nelson said Wooster’s administration approved the move back to the highest level for football. The Colts have competed in the 3A since last year as an independent.

“As of today (Wednesday), but it’s subject to change, but effective the fall 2012 will be a full-fledged Division I member,” Nelson said. “They will not be independent.”

Nelson said the reasoning for the division format is twofold. First, it streamlines with the NCAA’s division of schools. The NCAA has Division I (schools such as Nevada), Division II and III. The NCAA’s model is population based to a degree and has some of the highest quality level of athletes participating.

Second, it is to avoid offending any school with what they may perceive as a negative label, notably the schools in Clark County, Nelson added.

“There are states around the country that are making that change … to divisions,” he said. “The identification to the NCAA is where the largest enrollment universities compete at Division I.

“The high schools are trying to reflect that. I don’t want anybody reading too much into that as far as getting Division I scholarships. The second reason goes back to this whole Southern Nevada rubric, where we proposed a Class 4A Division I and II. The genesis is not to offend anyone.”

The former 3A, now Division I-A will remain the same and is expected to keep the pod system for various sports including volleyball, basketball, softball and baseball. But in the south, the Division I-A will expand from three schools to 13.

Boulder City, Virgin Valley and Moapa Valley have been the longtime residents of the Southern 3A. Now those veteran members will have a more balanced schedule and avoid planning numerous non-league contests.

The league will be split into two leagues – the Sunset and Sunrise. The Sunset will have six schools (Cheyenne, Clark, Faith Lutheran, Mojave, Pahrump Valley and Western) and the Sunrise will have seven (Boulder City, Chaparral, Desert Pines, Moapa Valley, SECTA, Sunrise Mountain and Virgin Valley).

However, Southeast Career Technical Academy (SECTA) only has about half the sports offered by the other schools in its division, Nelson said. Their athletes cannot return to their home-zoned school to participate in a sport not offered at SECTA.

The Northern Region for Division III (formerly 2A) will keep its 10 schools, although White Pine will continue to play football as a member of the Southern Region.

But for the Northern Region of Division I-A, Nelson said it will give the schools opportunities to play new schools come the postseason.

“I think it will be exciting,” Nelson said. “They’re going to see some different schools. I think the Northern 3A schools will be competitive and they’ll do fine.”

Realignment in the south was developed because of a lack of competitive balance among the 34 schools. A rubric will apply only in the south every two to four years. Schools that meet requirements will move from Division I-A to Division I and those schools who don’t meet requirements will be relegated from Division I to Division I-A.

Nelson added he expects the board of control to monitor the realignment for two years, instead of every four as of now. He added adjustments to the system will be made in two years and then, it is possible the relegation system will be revisited every four years.

In the North, though, schools have opted out of the rubric and will remain in their current divisions for the next several years.

“The current 3A and 4A schools have expressed no interest in the rubric,” Nelson said.

As far as the current 3A schools are concerned, several have voiced concerns about increased travel expenses since adopting the pod system. Nelson said Lyon County raised its concerns at a 2A/3A meeting in Elko on Monday.

Calls to Fallon Athletic Director Brad Daum, Dayton AD Steve Henderson and Fernley AD Jeff Knutson were not returned.

Lyon County schools include Fernley, Dayton, Silver Stage, Rite of Passage (private) and Yerington. Those schools, including Fallon in some sports, have to travel both to the Ruby Mountain and Mount Rose leagues to compete. Their travels take them as far away as Elko and Spring Creek to South Lake Tahoe, Calif., and Truckee, Calif.

“First reports out of there (Elko), were they agreed in principle to continue the pod system,” Nelson said. “From what I understand, they agreed to continue the pod system, but they’re going to continue to talk about how to balance out the travel between the pods.”


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