Carroll officials wary of reclassification
Thomas Lester, News Writer
The possibility of Carroll County High Schools athletic programs moving into a new district or classification with new playoff formats in 2011 was addressed at the Dec. 9 meeting of the Carroll County School Board. Carroll County High School principal Robby Patton presented information to the school board members, highlighting the proposed changes and possible redistricting scenarios that involve the Cavaliers and current Southwest District member schools. The new classifications are based on school attendance numbers, dividing the schools into groups of roughly similar sizes to create a more even playing field. The proposal is to use five divisions, Patton said. Right now you have three classifications, A, AA and AAA. They want to get rid of that and go to a five-classification system and break the schools up by numbers. Patton noted that under that proposal, Carroll County would be shifted into Division III under this new system, along with Abingdon and Marion. Richlands, Graham, Tazewell and Grundy would all be categorized as Division II schools, with the possibility of Grundy even dropping all the way down to Division I. Patton said factors such as geography, travel time, rivalries and instructional time go into determining new districts, if that is what goes on. Patton said if the new divisions are instituted, its possible Carroll could be fitted into a district with Lee County High School, which is roughly 160 miles away in Jonesville. We could have possibly been put in a district with Lee County and thats a further trip for us than Grundy, he said. Patton said while reorganizing districts is one possibility, the Virginia High School League might choose to eliminate districts altogether or freeze current districts, even if schools are reclassified in the five-division format or a newly-proposed six-division organization. He said the VHSL is hoping to call for a vote on the concept at an upcoming meeting. I dont think the idea of eliminating districts will pass, Patton said. I think they will probably freeze the districts or require each section to create districts to guarantee people a base schedule to work from. Its not going to be practical to do it any other way. If districts are frozen, or if new districts are introduced, Patton said the VHSL might still opt to introduce the new playoff format, in which power points wouldnt be used to determine participants. The VHSL, talking about how to get into the playoffs, theyre talking about all of the schools in the section making the playoffs, he said. They wouldnt have criteria about getting in. Just let everybody in, seed them and let them play. Because the sections are smaller, they would be able to do that. Theres even talk of doing that in football and making sure the last play date is open to start the playoffs early. If districts were frozen, the new playoff format would allow the Cavaliers to keep all of their district games against what would become Division II opponents, while keeping traditional rivalries against Galax and Grayson County alive. If some sort of point system were instituted, Patton said it might mean scheduling other Division III schools instead. The schedules are an issue, Patton said. The thing the VHSL wanted to look at was gate receipts and rivalries. Most of our rivalries and the biggest gates we would have are with Single A-sized schools or close to it. If there were some sort of point system and if we were in a district in Division III, it would be to our disadvantage to play the schools that are our rivals, and that would affect our gates. School Board member Franklin Jett noted that a new playoff format would be ideal for Carroll if districts are frozen, because it would allow the Cavaliers to play traditional rivals as well as smaller-sized district teams. If they did away with the power rankings, it wouldnt bother you once it splits up, Jett said. If they keep the power points, theres no way to ever make it. School Board Chairman Harold Golding asked Patton what he would do if the VHSL decides that districts have to be formed within the new divisions. I would try to partner up with Abingdon, Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Marion and form the old New River District, Patton said. Superintendent Dr. Greg Smith asked Patton what spurred the VHSL to make the proposals. What has come about is Single A went to divisional play in basketball, Patton said. I think that was the original catalyst. Before, football was the only sport that did this. In football, you have six state championships. No other sport has six state championships. Year before last, Single A went into divisional play for basketball. Double A is going to divisional play for basketball this year. Double A and Single A seem to want to have more equity in school size for championships. These five divisions are addressed for Single A and Double A. Smith asked Patton on his prognosis on the situataion, noting that he didnt believe anything would change. My sense is the VHSLs structural tendency is to stay in the status quo, Patton said. The way this proposal occurred, theyve already changed it. Now theres another proposal, the six-division proposal. When they say they want to vote on the concept, to me, that says the particulars are so unpopular, they would lose the vote. Also, if they try to have you vote on something that doesnt have particulars, they arent going to vote for that either. The principals that vote on this are going to vote on whats best for their school. When you get all these schools voting on their own self-interests, its not going to change. Unless you can solve the problems of over 2/3 of the schools in the state, its not going to change.
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