Bonine tackles issue of realignment
June 13, 2007
RENO – Eddie Bonine became executive director of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association in November. Prior to his current position, Bonine served as director of student services with Washoe County School District, and before that, he was principal of Fernley High School.
Before he was selected as executive director, he was vice president of the Board of Control.
In Bonine’s first quarterly meeting as executive director in March, the NIAA tabled a motion to realign eight high schools including Churchill County. The Board of Control meets Wednesday to discus a proposal to shift five high schools – Elko, Fallon, Hug, South Tahoe and Wooster to the Northern 3A.
Bonine recently discussed realignment with the Sierra Nevada Sports Media group.
Q: If Hug and Wooster are not being required to move down, how can the NIAA justify moving Elko, South Tahoe and Fallon down against their wishes? (Why aren’t Hug and Wooster still being considered to drop to the 3A because the criteria being used to classify the other schools applies to them as well.)
A: At the meeting in September, Dr. Jerry Hughes (retired NIAA executive director) was present, I was not. Hug and Wooster had no interest in the proposal, and they were not considered by the committee. Nat Lommori (Board of Control member and superintendent of Lyon County School District) said they (Wooster and Hug) should be considered if Elko, South Tahoe and Churchill are being considered as well. So we put them back on the agenda. We will re-examine Yerington for their football in 2A. But the direction from the Board of Control is to get out of petitioning in one sport.
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Q: Doesn’t the NIAA have to move all five down just to save the 3A?
A: No, there is no talk to saving the league. In the South, we have had four to five teams for a long time. It would be nice to add more teams in the North and South. Seems like there’s an urgency to build a league up there (Northern Nevada). We have some schools in Las Vegas that have programs struggling in the 4A. They wouldn’t struggle as much in the 3A. Any time you suggest a team to play in the 3A, you get intense heat.
Q: Will the 3A be required to have freshman and junior varsity teams in football, basketball and volleyball and junior varsity teams in soccer, softball and baseball?
A: This situation could work itself out. Although there is a concern Elko and Fallon played in the Sierra League, then those schools would have encountered the same problem of some teams not being able to field a junior varsity of freshman program. Some schools in Washoe County don’t know if they will have a junior varsity or freshman football programs or a junior varsity softball or baseball team. There would be a hole in the schedule there. At Hug, for example, they don’t know if the will have a junior varsity or freshman football teams or both.
(Bonine said the NIAA has not been involved in mandating the number of teams each school must have for a sport.)
Q: Why is Carlin being pushed up?
If it is competitive balance, Carlin has only won two state titles (softball) since the last realignment cycle started in Fall of 2004. Alamo has seven.
Also if it is competitive balance, was football the only sport considered because Carlin’s basketball, volleyball, track and wrestling teams are average at best in 1A?
A: If the NIAA strictly went by the numbers, then Carlin would stay in the 1A. However, I’m not adverse to having Carlin play football in the 2A. Laughlin, on the other hand, should move up because the school has been winning championships. If we let schools petition up in sports, then Carlin should be able to petition up in football. It’s tough to set up realignment. Someone may be up in a cycle or down in a cycle. We need to respect the leagues’ opinions.
(Bonine referred to Nevada Administrative Code 386.667, section 10. This section gives the Board of Control the ability to approve a school’s request to have a pupil or team participate in a classification higher than their current classification.)
Q: Is realignment criteria for competitive balance strictly based on football, basketball and baseball results?
A: No … it’s based on the programs that are not successful. That’s why Hug and Wooster have come back on the agenda. This is a Title IX opportunity and an opportunity to succeed. It is a Title IX issue if the girls keep getting drilled. (Bonine referred to the lack of success in the girls programs at Hug and Wooster. Furthermore, as for the proposed realignment to send five Northern 4A schools to the 3A, Bonine said he has received parents’ and school administrators’ letters and telephone calls opposing the move. He said not one negative call or letter has come from Churchill County.) You can’t break down the mentality of being in the 4A or 3A. In Las Vegas, they (Board of Control members) are more open to hearing proposals. They will look at whole programs.
Q: What do you envision for the future for the Northern 4A – is a Metro League a possibility?
A: During my 5 1/2 years in Washoe County, this has never been an issue. Washoe County enjoys and respects the competitiveness of the teams in Douglas, Carson City, Elko, Churchill. Douglas is a good example of finishing No. 2 in baseball. In the last two realignments, Elk has had a better winning percentage in all of its sports than the other four schools (being considered for realignment).
Q: Why do you want to beef up the 3A when Southern Nevada only has six schools? Wouldn’t there be an imbalance if you add 3-4 schools to the North?
A: We talked about crossover games where Northern 3A teams would play Southern 3A teams. This is a budgetary problem. (Bonine said that issue would have to be worked out if realignment passes.)
Q: Are you still going to consider sport-by-sport petitioning at some point – especially when there is a school that is clearly dominant and wants to move up?
A: We would look at the idea of petitioning up and petitioning down. Should we allow a school (on a pilot program) to petition down in football? There are concerns in scheduling if one team remains in one league and the other moves up. (This would affect soccer, volleyball and basketball). There is a concern about morale at schools if some teams remain in one league and the others are in another. Sparks, though, is our posterchild. (The Railroaders moved all of their programs to the Northern 3A). Football and basketball are more competitive. The girl sports are more competitive. They are not losing games in basketball 30 to 40 points or losing softball games 9-0. It’s more like 4-3. If you were a smaller team, why would you put yourself playing McQueen, Hug, Reno, Douglas and possibly Carson City on back-to-back Fridays? They could allow schools the ability to pick one or two sports to play in the 4A. That will go to the Board of Directors. We need to resolve this within the NIAA.
Q: If Fallon, South and Elko are required to remain in the Northern 4A, would the league be altered to have the stronger teams in one and the weaker or more comparable teams in another?
A: This will be a league decision, but it is one worth listening to..