First half of consequential NIAA Board of Control Meeting wields little substance, sets stage for vote Thursday morning
RENO – Nothing has changed – yet.
Wednesday’s Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Board of Control meeting at the Silver Legacy produced the expected opinions. Major decisions regarding a 4A/5A classification realignment in the state will wait for a vote on Thursday.
Last month, a realignment committee proposed dividing the 4A South into the 4A and new 5A classification while allowing the 4A North the opportunity to voice its preference.
It was anticipated the 4A North would vote to stay down, and that came to fruition.
The region’s commissioner, Ron McNutt, presented survey results from all 12 schools in 4A North. Each school was granted three options. One, stay at 4A in all sports. Two, remain playing football at 4A while moving up to 5A in other sports. Or, three, shifting unilaterally to the 5A level.
Seven voted to stay at the 4A level across the board. Three (Hug, Reno and Spanish Springs) chose to the second option, to play football at 4A while moving up the 5A in all remaining sports. Two (Bishop Manogue and Reed) prefer to play 5A in all sports.
“The consensus is the 4A North wants to stay at the 4A level,” McNutt told the Board.
Timothy Jackson, the 4A South’s Liaison, shared the region’s overall positive feelings toward realignment as well.
The results are only an input gauge for the Board of Control, which will take the tally into consideration, but is not required to abide by the revelation when it votes on potential realignment Thursday morning.
Carson Athletic Director and football coach Blair Roman addressed to the Board on behalf of the region’s 11 football coaches, revealing that nine of the 11 would prefer to continue to compete at the 4A level. He gave three reasons for the lopsided vote in opposition of shifting to the would-be 5A classification: Competitive imbalance, enrollment inequality, and stimulation for the proposed 4A south programs.
“It (competitive imbalance) goes far beyond what we’re seeing with Bishop Gorman,” he said.
The Gaels have rattled off a state-record eight-straight football state titles. Collectively, Northern Nevada has won 44 of the 190 team state titles (23 percent) decided over the last decade.
Roman then pointed to massive enrollment disparities between Northern and Southern Nevada. The average enrollment of the proposed 5A south sits at 2,782 with Rancho (3,248) tipping the scales. The 4A North boasts an average enrollment of 1,595 – almost 1,200 fewer students per school. The region’s largest school, Spanish Springs, has 2,328 students – or 454 fewer than the recommended 5A South’s mean.
The prospective 4A South still owns a much greater average enrollment than that of the 4A North, at 2,344.
Roman rounded out his argument, stating the move could help the proposed 4A South football programs that are perceived to be struggling.
“We feel with the school populations we’re looking at, we’re going to have highly competitive games,” he said. “That would be our hope. We look at it from that standpoint how that would benefit these Las Vegas proposed 4A schools.”
Bishop Manogue’s Jason Sterrett provided a dissenting stance.
“Where we would like to move forward is staying the 5A,” he said. “We understand we have to go with the flow up here, but regardless (we see) the opportunity for competition and we’re excited for the challenges.”
Bishop Manogue owns the smallest large-school enrollment in the state, at 672 students, and has struggled particularly on the football field. That could be changing dramatically with January’s hiring of former Reed coach Ernie Howren.
An additional sprinkle of intrigue was added to the conceivable realignment cake when NIAA Assistant Directory Jay Bessemyer, who handles finances, shared growing fiscal concerns centered around declining ticket sales and increasing expenses for amenities such a state tournament venues.
The NIAA paid nearly $34,000 to place the state basketball tournaments at Cox Pavilion on UNLV’s campus last month.
If a 5A classification is to be berthed on Thursday, one result would be upwards of 19 more state tournaments a year, creating additional cost. Executive Director Bart Thompson countered, noting that supplementary tournaments would also produce revenue.
All discussed realignment adjustments would not take place until the fall of 2018.
The NIAA Board of Control will vote on Thursday morning in the Silver Baron Rooms at the Silver Legacy. The meeting starts at 8 a.m.