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NIAA sends realignment proposal to schools for vote

Justin Lawson
jlawson@nevadaappeal.com

For years the debate has been on about how to successfully realign high school athletics in Nevada, without upsetting too many people.

While most people contend that there is no way to please every one, the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association released Tuesday its newest realignment proposal. Unlike the previous versions that have sparked heated debate, NIAA executive director Eddie Bonine believes this may finally be one that reshapes high school sports in the state.

“The money saved in regards to transportation,” Bonine pointed out as the reason why he believes this version will pass. “If you look back at the pages (in the proposal) for mileage for Elko, Churchill and South Lake and all those other schools that travel out there, there’s a drastic change in dollars for schools traveling to the East…”

The proposal comes after a group of 29 people, including a group for the North and one for the South, set out to develop a solid plan after another proposal failed to gain momentum in October. The committee was assembled out of that failure and has put forth the proposal in the hopes of having it approved by March and take effect for the 2010-11 school year.

While the biggest changes will be seen in the lower levels, the proposal expects to save Carson High School a large amount in travel expenses and should help keep student-athletes in the classroom by cutting down travel time.

The 4A would be comprised of Bishop Manogue, Carson, Damonte Ranch, Douglas, Galena, Hug, McQueen, North Valleys, Reed, Reno and Spanish Springs with Wooster participating in 4A in all sports except football.

Wooster would become independent and largely play teams in the new 2A/3A.

The 4A would lose Elko, South Tahoe and Fallon, who all would move to the new 2A/3A.

It is unclear if the Northern 4A would remain in two leagues as it is currently, or if it would become one 11-team league for football and 12 teams for all other sports.

“It’s not only a money issue, but I think the time and effort of kids, regardless the sport whether it’s cross country, swimming or football, that you want the kids participating to have an opportunity to be successful,” Carson athletic director Bob Bateman said. “Obviously, not everyone is going to win a state title, but when you look at the ratio numbers it’s very hard to energize a school from an athletic standpoint and a support standpoint because it’s very difficult for them to compete with some of the larger schools and some of the schools that have some facilities that are more current and updated.”

The lower levels, which are spread throughout Nevada with distances between schools under the current alignment stretching farther than 250 miles, would see the greatest decrease in travel time.

Under the proposal, Dayton would cut it’s travel miles in half with a 3-league format that pits the Lake Tahoe-area schools in one league, the Northeastern schools another and everyone in between in another.

The Mount Rose League of the new 2A/3A class would include: Incline, North Tahoe, Sparks, South Tahoe, Truckee and Whittell. Wooster be added to the league in football only as an independent.

The Lahontan League would consist of Fallon, Dayton, Fernley, Pershing Co., Rite of Passage, Silver State and Yerington.

The Ruby Mountain League would be Battle Mountain, Elko, Lowry, Spring Creek, West Wendover and White Pine.

In order to insure the move continues to aid in lowering travel expenses, the Mount Rose and Ruby Mountain leagues would not play each other in during the regular season in all sports but football. Also, the Lahontan League would be split out, by 2A and 3A schools, to play schools in the Mount Rose and Ruby Mountain for non-league contests.

This part of the proposal harkens back to when all teams played each other to determine playoff seeding and would be separated for postseason play.

“Back in the day in other states, including this one, you played people that were close to you during the regular season and then you looked at your record and then when it came down to it, you played people your own size for playoffs,” Bonine said. “It’s kind of the same old philosophy. We’ve come in a huge circle.”

Dayton athletic director Kevin Kranjcec didn’t hesitate when asked if he supported the proposal.

“Based on what we’ve discussed and what I’ve seen from it, I’m in favor of this realignment,” Kranjcec said. “I think it’s going to be a positive thing for both financial and as well the competition for our league as well.”

The 3A has been the hot topic in recent realignment meetings because of the lack of competition. Currently the Northern 3A is comprised of only seven teams (Dayton, Fernley, Lowry, Sparks, Spring Creek, Truckee and Yerington). Past attempts to move Elko, Hug, South Tahoe and Wooster down have been unsuccessful.

The Southern 3A would still consist of only Boulder City, Moapa Valley and Virgin Valley, but the three would play a 4A schedule in the Sunrise Region’s Northeast League and breakout for their own playoffs.

The proposal was sent to school administrators Tuesday, where they are expected to give their feedback. If the administrators will relay their feedback through their respective superintendents and the NIAA. The superintendents have final say on the proposal and will give their votes in a meeting scheduled for early February.

“You never know,” Bonine said of the possibility of the proposal being passed. “I believe we’ve put together two solid committees, one from the North and one in the South, they worked diligently in the meetings that we’ve had. They put a lot of time into it.

“It’s in the hands of the superintendents, they’re ultimately the final decision in referencing coming back to our board…”

Class 4A

Northern Region

Bishop Manogue, Carson, Damonte Ranch, Douglas, Galena, Hug, McQueen, North Valleys, Reed, Reno, Spanish Springs, Wooster (to go independent with 2A / 3A in football).

Sunrise Region (South)

Northeast League: Boulder City, Canyon Springs, Chaparral, Desert Pines, Eldorado, Las Vegas, Moapa Valley, Rancho, Sunrise Mountain, Valley, Virgin Valley.

Southeast League: Basic, Coronado, Del Sol, Foothill, Green Valley, Liberty, Silverado, SECTA.

Sunset Region

Northwest League: Arbor View, Centennial, Cheyenne, Cimarron-Memorial, Faith Lutheran, Legacy, Mojave, Palo Verde, Shadow Ridge.

Southwest League: Bishop Gorman, Bonanza, Clark, Desert Oasis, Durango, Pahrump Valley, Sierra Vista, Spring Valley, Western.

Class 2A/3A

Northern Region

Mount Rose League: Incline, North Tahoe, Sparks, South Tahoe, Truckee, Whittell, Wooster (football only).

Lahontan League: Fallon, Dayton, Fernley, Pershing Co., Rite of Passage, Silver Stage, Yerington.

Ruby Mountain League: Battle Mountain, Elko, Lowry, Spring Creek, West Wendover, White Pine.

Class 1A/2A

Southern Region

League A: Andre Agassi, Calvary Chapel, Henderson International, Lincoln Co., The Meadows, Pahranagat Valley, Sandy Valley, Spring Mountain.

League B: Adelson, Beatty, Indian Springs, Lake Mead, Laughlin, Mountain View, Needles, Trinity International.

Class 1A

Northern Region

Austin, Carlin, Coleville, Eureka, Excel Christian, Gabbs, Gerlach, Jackpot, Lund, McDermitt, Mineral County, Owyhee, Pyramid Lake, Round Mountain, Sage Ridge, Sierra Lutheran, Smith Valley, Tonopah, Virginia City, Wells.

*For Northern 2A/3A and Southern 1A/2A regions, teams would revert to current classification numbers for postseason. Current 4A teams dropping to 2A/3A would compete in 3A playoffs.