The NIAA decided on a proposal for football realignment at its latest realignment committee meeting Wednesday morning in Las Vegas.
While the committee opted to use the rubric — a points-based system that looks at a team’s season-by-season success — for every other fall sport, football presented a different scenario in need of a different solution.
In the proposal accepted Wednesday by the realignment committee, Nevada football would have an “Open” division when the postseason rolls around.
The largest classification in Northern Nevada football will remain as Class 5A, despite previous indications of a drop to 4A.
The major changes come in the way the postseason format is implemented.
Football playoff changes
Ten teams will still compete in North 5A football next fall, based on Wednesday’s recommendation.
Those will be the nine teams from 2022, along with the addition of Hug, which petitioned up to 5A for football in the previous realignment meeting on Nov. 29.
All 10 teams will be eligible to compete for the 5A state title.
As of Wednesday, 14 teams will be in the 5A South.
However, the biggest change comes with the new Open classification, which would be implemented for the postseason only.
Under the new proposal, the top one or two North teams could petition to move into the Open playoffs once the regular season ends.
The Open playoffs will include the top six teams from the 5A South based on the scoring of a rubric or on MaxPreps’ rankings (a ranking system is still undetermined). That will leave the remaining eight teams in the 5A South to compete for a regional championship and a state title against the winner of the 5A North.
Another outcome that has yet to be determined by the NIAA is what happens to the 5A North football playoffs should a North team petition to join the Open division.
If no teams from the North choose to go into the Open division in any given year, the top eight teams would compete for the 5A North title. But if a top North team petitions up, it would alter the number of teams in the 5A North playoffs, which NIAA executive director Donnie Nelson said they did not have a solution for as of the time of proposal.
“That’s something the 5A North administrators and athletic directors would have to decide how they want to handle (in) that situation,” said Nelson.
That will have to be re-examined prior to the proposal being submitted to the NIAA Board of Control for official approval.
“This one (proposal) tied in tournament formats because it was a very specific proposal,” said Nelson. “We’re going to talk about how that (playoff) bracket will look on Jan. 9.”
Next steps for the proposal
Again, everything stated Wednesday was a recommendation of the realignment committee and has not been voted into official application yet.
“This is the process in which the realignment committee makes a recommendation and that was the recommendation today (Wednesday),” said Nelson.
Schools can still petition, in any sport, to move classifications and those petitions will be heard at the next NIAA meeting on Jan. 9.
However, there is a possibility that Wednesday’s proposal could still be amended with further changes.
“That recommendation could be amended still. You could have a school say they don’t want to be in that 5A group or 3A group, etc.,” said Nelson. “This is the first recommendation as of today (Wednesday).”
On Jan 18-19, the NIAA Board of Control will hear the final recommendation of the realignment committee.
The Board of Control can choose to accept the proposal or reject it and force another proposal from the realignment committee.
Other sport outcomes
There were a few other changes recommended by the NIAA realignment committee at Wednesday’s meeting.
The largest class of Northern Nevada girls soccer has been moved to Class 4A, instead of 5A, where it was positioned the last two seasons.
That determination was made on the competitiveness of the North versus southern Nevada teams. The largest class in the south has won every state title since 2010.
Girls golf was also recommended to move from 5A to 4A in Northern Nevada, which would include the Douglas Tigers, who would be pulled up after back-to-back state championships at the 3A level.
Boys and girls tennis was voted on as one collective sport, rather than two.
It was also determined by the realignment committee that the largest class of Northern Nevada tennis be moved to 4A.
For local teams, under the current proposal, Douglas girls golf would move to Class 4A, which would become the largest classification for the sport in Northern Nevada.
Douglas boys soccer will be pulled back up to 5A, as the realignment committee suggested. The Tigers spent the last two seasons in Class 3A.
Volleyball won’t encounter any changes and will remain at the 5A level.
Northern cross country will remain in Class 5A, as well.
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