A proposal pushing for a success modifier to be applied to private schools when determining sports classifications was given the nod it needed from the executive board for the Kansas State High School Activities Association on Wednesady.
In a presentation to the executive board in Topeka, Paola athletic director Jeff Hines and Girard Middle School principal Randy Heatherly reported numbers from an independent survey they conducted over the Christmas break. They sent a survey to principals at all 355 KSHSAA member schools asking if they would support or reject a modifier of some type for selective-enrollment schools.
Of the 284 schools that responded, more than 82 percent said a modifier of some type is needed.
“That was overwhelming to find out,” Hines said.
Before any proposal can move forward, it first must clear a roadblock that exists in Kansas state law. Statute 72-130 states that KSHSAA must establish a system for classification of member high schools “according to school attendance.” Because of this wording, KSHSAA has not considered a modifier in the past.
Last year Hines crafted a Senate bill to try to ammend the statute, removing “according to school attendance” from the language, but the Kansas Senate informed him that it would not act without the support of KSHSAA.
On Wednesday, Hines and Heatherly asked the executive board not to outright support a modifier, but for its blessing to support the bill so the conversation of the modifier can take place.
“How much longer are we going to put it off?” Heatherly asked during the presentation. “We’re losing a little bit of faith when we continue to put it off and we’re basically hiding behind this statute saying we can’t address it. Well, we can address it. But Jeff can’t go back to legislature without KSHSAA’s support. They’re going to ask, ‘What about KSHSAA?’ And if KSHSAA is neutral, then they’re going to tell him to get lost again. It’s time to put up or shut up. It’s time to let the voices of the member schools be heard.”
After initially tabling the discussion earlier in the meeting on Wednesday, the topic was re-introduced later in the day and the executive board decided to give its approval to go ahead with the bill.
In a press release on Wednesday evening, the KSHSAA executive board stated it “expresses no opposition” to Hines’ and Heatherly’s pursuit of revising statue 72-130.
“Could a grassroots effort force legislature to listen to its constituents and make a change? Sure, but I think that’s a difficult path,” Hines told reporters before the statement. “If KSHSAA comes forward and says, ‘We’ve listened to the 284 schools that responded to the survey and say we want this change,’ then this is much easier. Much, much easier.”
KSHSAA executive director Gary Musselman took note of the overwhelming support from the survey and acknowledged that change in some form is coming to the classification system in Kansas.
“Clearly this is a moment in time when I guess the stars have aligned,” Musselman said. “Our schools have said we want a top-to-bottom re-evaluation.”
Determining what type of modifier was another question the executive board had for Hines and Heatherly.
They suggested the best option would be to follow Oklahoma’s success-based modifier for private schools, which would make an adjustment based on a school’s success by sport. Although 27 percent of the responses said they would support a flat multiplier to private schools, as Missouri does, Hines and Heatherly made it clear they would not support that.
▪ Also Wednesday, the KSHSAA approved a proposal by its classification committee that would alter the number of teams in each classification. In football, the two 4A divisions and 2-1A would be eliminated, replaced by 32-team classifications in 6A, 5A, and 4A and 48-team classifications in 3A and 2A — eliminating the 3-games-in-10-days issue in the 3A playoffs. In other sports, 6A, 5A, and 4A would form 36-team classes, while 3A and 2A would consist of 64.
The two proposals will be be voted on by member schools in the April meeting.