NHIAA makes big classification change

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Post  Tuesday and Friday on Fri Oct 23, 2009 12:59 pm

With today's article by Kevin Gray in the Union Leader on the classification change by NHIAA I also heard there was ice forming in Hell. Unbelievable and long over due for the sports structure of HS sports teams in NH.


CONCORD – In a move aimed at giving schools greater freedom to place individual teams in specific divisions, the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association's governing council yesterday voted to revamp its classification system.

Currently, some sports are broken into classes, others into divisions, but beginning with the next academic year, Class L will become Division I, Class I Division II, Class M Division III and Class S Division IV, with schools with the largest enrollment in Division I.

The change isn't simply one of name. Also beginning next year, inter-division games and matches in sports currently operating under a class format will count in the standings. Sports already operating under a division format -- including football, hockey and girls' volleyball -- won't factor inter-division games into their standings until the next two-year scheduling cycle, beginning in 2012-13.

In what may be the biggest change, schools will be allowed to petition to move individual teams up or down in division. Under current policy, each school's athletic program shares a common classification within the L-I-M-S format.

Divisions will be based on enrollment, and moving a team up or down -- especially down -- won't be easy. Petitions must be approved by the NHIAA's classification committee and a 21-member council comprising principals, athletics directors, other administrators and coaches.

It was the council that approved the changes by majority vote yesterday, acting on a proposal brought forth by the NHIAA's classification sub-committee.

Steve Beals, principal at Laconia High, helped lead the ad hoc classification committee and develop yesterday's PowerPoint presentation, which stemmed from the NHIAA's annual meeting held last month.

Patrick Corbin, the NHIAA's executive director, gave his stamp of approval throughout the process, aimed at providing more parity among all sports.

"I'm certainly impressed with the dialogue and the fact people worked very hard on this. The direction is clear: We're moving toward a more equitable system of classification," Corbin said.

Other changes that will take effect for the two-year scheduling cycle beginning in the 2012-13 school year:

--The classification committee will use student enrollment, win/loss records and competitive history over a four-year span to determine divisions.

--Sport-specific committees at that point may recommend a new number of divisions for their respective sports.

Any teams beginning next fall will be allowed to petition to a division with a higher or lower base enrollment.

The issue of teams petitioning to move up or down has been the source of some concern across the state, with some administrators fearful of schools dropping down to feast on teams from schools with smaller enrollment. Corbin believes this won't be an issue.

"In my opinion, you will see very few downward petitions," Corbin said. "You'd have to meet some serious criteria to explain why you can't play at your current level. We'll be looking at feeder systems, competitive history, etc."

The NHIAA's classification committee will meet with sport-specific committees and discuss or reject petitions. Then recommendations will be presented to the council for final approval at its annual December meeting.

Dave Gosselin, athletics director of Manchester's public schools for 10 years, immediately recognized potential benefits from the changes.

"I personally think for teams from (Manchester High) West, who've been feeling the pinch of losing Bedford kids and losing teams (from lack of participation), this will be a good thing," Gosselin said. "Some schools and some programs, for whatever reason, get pounded all the time. This way makes it more competitive for everybody. This will give some teams a fighting chance."

Bob Royce, athletics director at Pinkerton Academy in Derry, said the revised classification format could use some tweaking -- and that will happen -- but overall it's a positive move for the NHIAA.

"The system we went through was very fair. Hey, now it's done and let's try to make it work the best we can," Royce said. "It's charting new territory in our state."

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Post  Tulliver on Sat Oct 24, 2009 8:58 pm

Obviously for a school like West this is fantastic news for some sports.

It will be interesting to see how people adjust to this change.

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Post  Tuesday and Friday on Tue Oct 27, 2009 7:03 pm

The first school I thought of when this classification change came down was West's girls b-ball teams. Their poor girl's teams last year had an incredibly tough record (remember the Winny - West girls varsity game last season). I saw Parkside girls last year and there's no hope for the future of West's girls teams in Class L or Division 1. They need to move down to I or M or as NHIAA will call it in a couple of years, Division 2 or 3.

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Post  Tulliver on Tue Oct 27, 2009 8:20 pm

Agreed. That was a torturous game.

I believe West is suspending Varsity Hockey, but starting a JV hockey program so that they can play appropriately.

I am VERY happy to see them thinking outside of the box to continue sports at West.

Believe it or not... if a student attended Trinity and Trinity didn't have a particular sport... THEN the student could attend Trinity for classes but play on the sports team at the HOME DISTRICT.

The NHIAA will not let 2-3 Varsity Hockey players at West.. play at Central or Memorial though because it's public school to public school.

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Post  EBlessNHSP on Thu Nov 05, 2009 3:27 pm

An older article - but a good perspective of how this shift will affect Seacoast area teams:

NHIAA overhaul draws mixed reviews

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Post  EBlessNHSP on Thu Nov 05, 2009 3:30 pm

Another from Gary Fitz of the Nashua Telegraph:

H.S. fans might get their wish


Last edited by The Assistant on Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:43 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Post  Jeremy Leveille on Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:31 pm

The Assistant wrote:Another from Gary Fitz of the Nashua Telegraph:

H.S. fans might get their wish
The link won't open a page.

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Post  EBlessNHSP on Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:46 pm

Good ol Telegraph - they took the page down...doesn't look like any of their historical articles are up, who knows maybe they'll get it back online.

The article didn't say anything groundbreaking - but made some good points regarding schools like BG who would now be able to petition to move up to DI in football and such since they are able to pull form 20 or so towns, but wouldn't have the school population to qualify. Makes a lot of sense in their case....

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