Varsity Football

Survey shows 87.2 percent of Kansas high schools want public-private format changed

Kansas private high schools have won 40 percent of the state championships for which they’ve competed during the 2018-19 school year.

More than 87 percent of Kansas high schools want a change to the public-private structure in athletics, according to a 2018 survey of 313 out of 355 Kansas State High School Activities Association member schools obtained by the Eagle.

Paola High’s Jeff Hines and Girard Middle’s Randy Heatherly, two public school principals, conducted the survey.

The survey asked five questions:

  1. Would you support the KSHSAA classification system implementing a modifier for private schools?
  2. Would you support a “success modifier” for private schools similar to what Oklahoma uses?
  3. Would you support a multiplier that increases a private school’s enrollment by a coefficient, similar to the 1.35 or 1.5 multiplier used in numerous states?
  4. Would you support playing private schools during the regular season, then placing private schools in a completely separate postseason system?
  5. Which of the above choices (if any) do you feel would be the most fair and effective type of classification modifier?

Of the member schools that responded, 291 were public, 22 private, 313 total and 88.2 percent of all KSHSAA schools, according to the survey.

Of those schools that responded “Yes” to any change in the current public-private model, 271 were public and two were private. Twenty responded “No,” according to the survey.

The survey polled superintendents, principals and athletic directors; 96.6 percent of superintendents, 84.6 percent of principals and 85 percent of ADs supported a change, the survey states.

The results of the survey were presented to KSHSAA at its meeting Wednesday.

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At the meeting, the Frontier League met with the KSHSAA Executive Board, according to an email from Hines.

The board unanimously voted to pass a motion asking KSHSAA executive director Bill Faflick and his staff to “gather more information” about the public-private dynamic, outline Faflick’s plan of action at the board meeting March 19-20 and find a goal for the best plan to address the issue, the email states.

Last school year, the City League had 13 teams across all 21 sports finish in the top two of the state tournament or meet. Although there are seven public schools and only two private, Bishop Carroll and Kapaun Mt. Carmel outweighed USD 259 11-2.

Carroll had one of its best athletic years with nine teams finishing in the top two, four of which won state titles.

So far this school year, the City League’s private schools are ahead 3-1 by that same metric.

In a July article, Faflick told the Eagle winning state championships isn’t what athletic directors and coaches are paid to do.

“They want to be competitive, and that looks good, but what they really want is to have kids connected to school,” Faflick said in July.

Faflick said he is asked about the public-private structure a lot. He said he always contends that KSHSAA’s aim is to help student-athletes achieve at a higher level in the classroom, become good citizens and graduate from high school — not to win.

“Bottom line is when you start the season, you have the same playing rules,” Faflick said. “A basket is worth either two or three points. A foul shot is worth one. You get five fouls. I get five fouls.”

Faflick said high school sports are cyclical.

Bishop Miege football won its fifth straight state championship this season. Wichita South won six basketball titles in nine years during the late 1980s and early ’90s.

Last school year, private schools competed for 83 state championships. They made up 8.5 percent of all KSHSAA schools. They won more than 25.3 percent of those titles.

With the number of schools supporting a change to the public-private structure up 5.2 percent, according to the 2016 survey, and no private schools in Class 6A, an enrollment multiplier is the most popular solution, according to the survey, at 36.4 percent.

Here is how a 1.35 and 1.5 enrollment multiplier would affect Kansas’ private schools that compete in football, based on 2018-19 enrollments (rounding up to the nearest tenth):


Based on this year’s enrollments, even a 1.35-time enrollment multiplier would have forced some of Kansas’ largest public schools to drop a classification to fulfill the 16-team seeding format used in football:

  • Wichita West (6A to 5A)
  • Hays (5A to 4A)
  • Baldwin (4A to 3A)

All but two private schools that compete in KSHSAA football are faith-based. Collegiate and Independent are the outliers.

Faflick said although an enrollment multiplier is an option other states, including Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas have used, it can be seen as unfair to private schools. It draws questions of religious discrimination, Faflick said.

“To say that we’re totally broken, I’m not sure we’re totally broken,” he said. “But on the flip side, we don’t want people to feel like they don’t have a chance, so we want to make sure we do whatever we can to provide that equity.”

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Wichita Eagle preps reporter Hayden Barber brings the area updates on all high school sports while adding those hard-to-find human-interest stories on Wichita’s student-athletes.