Amended Nevada Senate bill satisfies STHS
Trophy suppliers stand to benefit the most from a Senate committee’s amended bill that will guarantee Nevada high school champions if California-based schools win future Silver State titles.
On Friday, the Human Resources and Facilities Committee amended Senate Bill 489, allowing California high schools to continue competing for Nevada state titles but empowering the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association – the governing body of the state’s high school athletics – to create a special trophy for the top Nevada-based school.
Lake Tahoe high schools South Tahoe, Truckee and North Tahoe are three of the five California schools that compete in Nevada leagues. Reaction to the Senate Committee amendment at STHS was one of relief.
“I’m glad that it’s over, but it’s hard to celebrate something that I thought was frivolous from the beginning. I’m glad that things for all intents and purposes are remaining status quo,” said STHS Athletic Director Frank Kovac. “The whole process reaffirmed in my mind that Californians and Nevadans are good neighbors.”
“The bottom line is we are going to have the opportunity to compete. It doesn’t make any difference what they call it,” said STHS football/girls basketball coach Tim Jaureguito.
The proposed bill, which still must be approved by the Senate, Assembly and governor, also requires that all state championships take place in Nevada.
“We can live with that,” said Kovac, whose cross country running coach, Dominique Westlake, was previously campaigning to bring next fall’s state championships to South Lake Tahoe.
The bill stemmed from a Nevada coalition led by Moapa Valley High football coach Jeff Knutson. Knutson, whose Pirates were routed by Truckee in the Nevada 3A state semifinals last fall, was fed up with California teams being crowned Nevada state champions.
“My problem is that if you’re the best team in Nevada, you should be the Nevada state champion and not have to be better than somebody from another state,” Knutson told the Senate Human Resources and Facilities Committee on April 2 in Carson City.
Knutson had hoped to eliminate any out-of-state schools from competing in Nevada postseason tournaments. If Knutson had been successful, the Lake Tahoe schools would have considered competing in Sacramento- and Stockton-area leagues.
NIAA Executive Director Jerry Hughes declined to talk about the amended bill on Monday, preferring to review the changes before discussing them.
Oddly, if the bill becomes a law, the third-place school in a Nevada 3A state tournament could become the “Nevada” champion. Both Truckee and North Tahoe, which have dominated football, cross country running and soccer during the 1990s, compete at the 3A level.
“If North Tahoe and Truckee played for the state championship and the third-place team received a trophy that said ‘Nevada state champion,’ that would be embarrassing,” Jaureguito said. “It doesn’t make any difference, the team that wins knows who the true champion is and who is not. They are kind of watering down their championship name.”
“It would be kind of pointless for a team from Nevada to get that trophy. It’s not what Knutson wanted, but it’s what he got,” he said.
The Senate must vote on the amended bill by next Monday.
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“Let Them Play,” rallies are taking place across California with a mission to bring back high school and youth sports.