Realignment won't be easy

The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association's attempt to create a fair and equitable realignment proposal might as well be called Mission Impossible.

Because Nevada is such a sprawling state with high schools of varying sizes spread all across it, the mission is virtually impossible to create a realignment proposal that keeps down travel and finances while maintaining a competitive balance.

It appears that the NIAA Board of Control must make a choice: Continue with the status quo in which schools are literally logging tens of thousands of miles to play opponents similar in size to maintain competitive balance; or favor geography over competitive balance to reduce travel and financial costs.

The NIAA Board of Control met this week and now has two proposals to consider for realignment, which would take place in 2004-2005. The first proposal would essentially change nothing and would keep the four class -- 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A -- in tact for all sports as they are now.

The other proposal would maintain the four divisions for football, but cut back to three divisions for all other sports.

"That is what we are calling, quote, unquote, the geography proposal," NIAA assistant director Donnie Nelson said.

The NIAA board will vote on which proposal to adopth in March.

Under the second proposal, there would be Northern and Southern 1A through 4A divisions in football. But in all other sports, the 1A-3A divisions would essentially be merged into two divisions -- 2A and 3A -- while the 4A would stay in tact.

In all other sports there would be Northern, Eastern and Southern 2A and 3A sections. In all the sports -- including football -- geography more than competitive balance would determine the classes.

In some cases, schools with less than 250 students would be playing opponents with more than 1,000 students. Yerington would be one of the biggest winners under the new format if it's approved.

For years, the Lions have been trying to move down from 3A to 2A in football. Under the new proposal, Yerington would compete in 2A in football and 3A in all other sports.

One reason why there's always been such a disaparity in some cases in the size of schools that have to play each other is there simply aren't that many schools between 500 and 1,000 students in Nevada.

"Nevada is a tremendously unique state in terms of geography and population bases," Nelson said. "We just have difficulties across the board in a lot of regards. We don't have a perfect mix."

Another proposal the NIAA board will decide on in March is the possibility of going to a North-South format for state championships in all divisions. That proposal could go into effect in 2003-2004.

As it stands now, multiple teams from the North and the South advance to a state tournament in all divisions in several sports. The proposal for North-South matchups for all state titles is a financially-driven one pushed by Washoe and Clark Counties. Those counties simply can't afford to continue to send multiple teams to state tournaments.

In the 4A division, the Sunset and Sunrise Division champions would meet for the Southern title and then would play the Northern champion for the state crown.

But for several sports other than football in the 1A-3A divisions, North-South title games may be held for only one year during 2003-2004. If the "geography" realigment format is adopted, beginning in 2004-2005, there would be Northern, Eastern and Southern 2A-3A divisions for all sports other than football.

In that case, one proposal would be to just hold a 16-team statewide playoff for the 2A-3A divisions in several sports other than football. Since there would just be Northern and Southern 1A-3A divisions in football, a North-South title game could continue to be held in that sport.

Charles Whisnand is the Nevada Appeal Sports Editor.


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