The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association said no to a pretty nice paycheck on Wednesday afternoon.
In a special meeting conducted over a conference call, the NIAA rejected a proposal from Paragon Marketing Group to allow member schools to compete in national football and/or basketball events.
Members of the NIAA Board of Control were so skeptical of the idea that a motion wasn’t even made to bring the item to a vote.
PMG, which runs the nationally-televised Dick’s Nationals basketball tournament (eight-team boys tournament and four-team girls tournament) and the nationally-televised State Championship Bowl Series (six teams), offered the NIAA $12,500 just to have access to member schools’ football and boys/girls basketball teams.
The potential income didn’t stop there. If an NIAA member school’s basketball team then competed in the Dick’s Nationals basketball tourney, PMG would write an additional $7,500 check to the NIAA. If an NIAA member school’s football team was selected, and competed, PMG would write a $40,000 check to the state’s prep athletic governing body.
But every sword has two edges.
It was certainly obvious which school PMG wanted. Yup, Bishop Gorman.
“We were approached because we have a couple teams (that are) nationally-ranked, national caliber,” NIAA Executive Director Bart Thompson said. “I don’t know if we get approached otherwise.”
PMG already had conversations with Bishop Gorman administration to play a game on the Gaels’ home field. Sam Boyd Stadium (UNLV’s home field) was also discussed.
The Gaels’ football team is ranked No. 1 in the nation in multiple polls and is the runaway favorite to win what would be their seventh-straight state title this fall. The Gaels’ boys basketball team will attempt to win its fifth-straight state title this winter. Only state champions are selected to compete in either of PMG’s tournaments/bowl games.
There were numerous reasons brought up on Wednesday as to why Bishop Gorman shouldn’t be allowed to play additional postseason games but one reason was dominant in the nearly 45-minute discussion.
Many said that if Gorman wants to compete for national titles (although PMG tries to avoid calling its tournament winners ‘national champions’) it shouldn’t be allowed to play for state titles as well.
A handful of Clark County School District administrators relayed this message to their liaison at the meeting. BOC voting members echoed.
“You have to do one or the other,” said Ray Mathis, executive director of CCSD instructional support and student activities. “You can’t do both.”
Brian Rothe, the Washoe County School District director of athletics, was right there too.
“I think schools should choose one or the other,” he said.
A concern was also mentioned by Mathis that if national titles and increased national exposure became a factor in Nevada prep athletics (if it’s not already), athletes from around the country could come to the state with sport being their only motivation, further tipping the competitive balance scale in the Gaels’ favor.
There is, however, a loophole for Bishop Gorman to play in these nationally-televised games, but the school would have to give up playing for state titles—at least in football or boys basketball.
Schools are not allowed to pick particular sports to be associate NIAA members (i.e. Findlay Prep) but they can apply for independent status in single sports. There is already a precedent of the NIAA allowing the move (Wooster football became independent when it dropped from the large-school ranks before joining the DI-A North).
So Gorman administration would have to choose between state titles or unofficial ‘national titles.’ However, they’re not that unofficial. Four of the last six Dick’s Nationals tournament winners have finished the season ranked No. 1 in the country.
And while there are as many as three State Championship Bowl Series football games and a ‘national champion’ isn’t crowned, a win over quality competition on national television wouldn’t hurt the resume.
Findlay Prep, a national prep basketball power in Henderson, has competed in the Dick’s Nationals a handful of times the last few years but is only allowed to do so because the school is an associate member of the NIAA and subject to fewer restrictions.