The postseason format in all high school sports in Kansas will change beginning in the 2018-19 school year.
Member schools of the Kansas State High School Activities Association passed a pair of proposals that will change the size and number of classifications in football, and the size of classifications in all other sports. The results of voting were anounced Wednesday.
In football, the two 4A divisions and 2-1A are eliminated, replaced with 32-team classifications in 6A, 5A, and 4A, and 48-team classifications in 3A and 2A with the remaining schools (approximately 35) playing in 1A. In all other sports, 6A, 5A, and 4A form 36-team classes, while 3A and 2A consist of 64 teams each with the more than 110 remaining schools in 1A.
The football proposal passed with nearly three-fourths of the vote, 215-73. The all-sports proposal passed with majority in the overall vote (207-145) and majority in classifications (all but 6A and 1A were in favor). Both proposals were approved by the KSHSAA board of directors in April.
The proposals were constructed by a 13-person committee appointed by the KSHSAA.
“I know the people who were on that committee spent a great deal of time studying what was going to be best for Kansas, not what was best for any one classification or any one school,” Collegiate athletic director Mitch Fiegel said. “I feel like in this case, with as much complaining as we’ve had about this, we needed to put our trust in this committee and with what they came up with and it looks like that’s what Kansas did. I’m proud of that committee and I’m proud of Kansas schools and administrators for buying in for what’s best for everybody.”
Gary Musselman, who is entering his final year as executive director this upcoming school year, viewed the democracy as a success.
“Kansas schools have made a choice and it is important that we give the new classification system every opportunity to be implemented successfully in the 2018-19 year and beyond,” Musselman said in a release. “Like all new things, there may be adjustments that will be deemed necessary in the future, but I have every confidence in our Association and its member schools in that regard.”
The largest criticism of the all-sports plan came from the smallest schools in Kansas – 1A schools voted against the proposal 65-31.
Athletic director Jason Hett of Central Christian, a 1A school in Hutchinson, said grouping more than 100 schools in the same classification will rob the smallest 1A schools of a fair opportunity at competing at the state level. The largest schools in 1A could be as mcuh as five times larger than the smallest school, Healy, with an enrollment of 23 last year.
“I figured it would pass, but I was hoping it wouldn’t,” Hett said. “I don’t know if this is what’s best for Kansas and your small schools in Kansas. I feel like they’re kind of turning their back on the smaller schools and not really worrying about us. It’s frustrating for a lot of the smaller schools because now it’s going to be really hard for them to compete with the bigger 1A schools. I don’t think you’re giving them the fair opportunity that they deserve.”
The football proposal was widely praised, as it eliminated the three-games-in-10-days dilemma that some classes had faced in the past. But it also creates a tougher 3A, as Division II of 4A essentially becomes 3A with the 16 largest 3A schools remaining.
“There are always going to be some people who don’t like it, but I think this as a whole helps football in the state of Kansas,” said Steve Martin, the president of the Kansas Football Coaches Association. “We’ll have to see how these first couple of years go, but I think this helps improve the safety of our kids and you can’t be unhappy about that.”