Illinois schools favor more than two classes

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The proposal would affect all team sports but football and swimming.

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. -- A majority of high schools in Illinois that responded to a survey would like to see the two-class system for athletic teams replaced by three- and four-class systems that would allow schools to play other schools closer to their size.

In the survey released by the Illinois High School Association on Tuesday, 64 percent of school principals or other school representatives who responded to the survey said they'd like to see a four-class system for team sports instead of the two-class system currently in place.

And an overwhelming majority -- 80 percent -- said if such a system is adopted, it should follow a model presented by the IHSA staff that would group schools with as many as 289 students in one class, 290-714 students in a second class, 715-1,628 students in a third class and schools with at least 1,629 students in a fourth class.

Such a system would affect girls volleyball, boys and girls basketball, boys baseball and girls softball. The survey does not address football, which in Illinois is divided into eight classes, or swimming, where there is just one class, said Anthony Holman, the assistant executive director for the Bloomington-based IHSA.

In all, 426 of the IHSA's 752 schools responded to the survey. The results of the nonbinding survey will be presented to the IHSA board next month, Holman said.

The survey also found that 59 percent of the respondents think that the IHSA should adopt a three-class system in individual sports, including boys golf, boys and girls track and field, and perhaps boys and girls cross country.

The survey also found that 75 percent of the respondents agreed that if such a system were to be adopted, it should follow the model presented by the IHSA staff. In that model, the first class would be for schools with as many as 527 students, with the second class for schools with 528-1,513 students and a third class for schools with 1,514 students or more.

The survey did not address the dispute over leveling the playing field between public and private sports teams. The IHSA's 752 member schools are voting on a proposal that would promote competitive balance by multiplying the enrollment of private schools by a factor of 1.65 for purposes of placing them into classes for state championship tournaments. That voting concludes Dec. 28.

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