W.Va. SSAC discusses state’s competitive balance in high school athletics

By Garrett Cullen, WV Metronews

PARKERSBURG — A 15-member committee met for the first time on Monday July 9, formed by the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission, to study ‘competitive balance’ among high school athletics in the state.

Five of the members came from Class AAA schools, five from Class AA and five from Class A.

“We have a couple of our board members on the committee who are principals or athletic directors,” said SSAC executive director Bernie Dolan. “It’s a mixed group of ADs and principals – mostly principals, but some ADs.”

Out of the five representatives from Class A on the committee, one of those comes from a private school in Wheeling Central.

The committee, as a whole, was put together as the debate between private vs. public schools in the state picked up again this spring.

A proposal from the SSAC Board of Control (member principals and athletic directors) was shot down by the state board of education last month, which would have created a separate class for the state’s eight private schools in postseason play.

“It’s possible that we go through all of this and decide that we’re still doing it the best way we can,” Dolan said. “But I think there is a pretty good feeling that we want to do something, because it impacts a lot of people.”

Dolan, back in May, pointed to systems that other states have implemented, focusing on all schools’ ultra-success in certain sports, not just private vs. public.

A proposal from the SSAC Board of Control was shot down by the state board of education last month, which would have created a separate class for the state’s eight private schools in postseason play.

“Most of the ideas are based around competitive balance – no matter what class you’re in, if you’re ultra successful for a string of years, you will probably go up a class. A couple of schools would go up, a couple would go down,” Dolan said. “California has something similar to that and Indiana has a method that is pretty simple, based on performance and classification. Ohio has a system that is a little more complicated.

“We’ve looked at a couple of models,” he continued. “We’ll see if we can look at it, see if it makes sense or see if some other ideas come up. We might be able to come up with something that would be a little better.”

The state board of education is expected to vote this month on another rule proposal that would give schools the option, per sport, to compete in one class above its designated classification from the SSAC – it would be for a four-year period.

The current rule obligates every sport to compete a classification higher if the school would make that choice to move up.

Regardless, Monday’s (July 9) meeting simply laid groundwork for the overall process as a second meeting is scheduled for September.

“We have some ideas and gave the committee members examples of what other states are currently doing in terms of competitive balance,” Dolan said. “We will see what the will is of the committee and see if we can hammer out something that everyone, or the majority, seems to be in favor of.

“(Monday) was just to agree that there’s an issue and try to find people to serve who are willing to work towards finding some type of a resolution,” he continued. “Hopefully we can put something together that is reasonable and we’ll go from there.”

Any potential proposal would still have to be presented to the SSAC Board of Control next spring and then again to the state board of education that summer.

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