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Realignment changes on the horizon

Steve Puterski
Lahontan Valley News

RENO – The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association is gearing up for yet another realignment.

This proposal, though, would mostly shake up Nevada high schools in the Southern Nevada (Las Vegas), although a few additions from Northern Nevada (North) would come to fruition.

NIAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine said the proposal would eliminate the 3A entirely, create two divisions of 4A (Division I and II), while the 2A and 1A classifications would remain unchanged.

Bonine said the reason for the realignment is to create a competitive balance, especially in the South where at least half a dozen or more schools have not been able to compete consistently. The NIAA will discuss the realignment plan at its June 22-23 meeting in Reno at the Silver Legacy and will vote on the matter at its October meeting in Las Vegas.

Instead of focusing on enrollment numbers, Bonine said the NIAA is looking at league and season records, playoff appearances and wins and state championships as part of the formula to separate the divisions. Also, the NIAA would look at participation – whether schools can fill the number of teams in the higher divisions or classifications to determine if a school is eligible for an upgrade.

The rubric uses a point system to determine in nearly each sport in the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years. The new classifications would begin in the 2012-13 school year. Which schools would be transferred to new classifications will be revealed at the NIAA’s June meeting, Bonine said.

“In Vegas we have the haves and have nots,” Bonine said. “There is a Nevada rubric that applies to championships, qualification for league and postseason participation. The point system establishes a competitive balance versus using the enrollment numbers. You could have a school that has 3,000 students but can’t field JV teams in any sports.”

Fallon athletic director Brad Daum said 15 to 18 schools in the South would drop down so they can compete. He added that some of the schools mentioned to move down to Division II would be Wooster and Hug and possibly Damonte Ranch and Galena, although Daum wasn’t certain if Damonte and Galena would qualify.

Daum, though, added the move down in classification has re-energized the atmosphere at Fallon, and not just in athletics. The Greenwave won four state championships last week (boys golf and track, baseball and softball), and the attitude around campus has drastically changed, he said.

“Not just your whole entire athletic program, but you entire school is different,” Daum said. “You whole entire community is different. It’s just been a positive thing for us.

“The reason we wanted to come down was, as athletic director, I couldn’t look my kids in the face and tell them they had a legitimate chance to compete for regional and state titles in the 4A. We just couldn’t do it, and now I can. It’s been a great experience for us, and the best thing we’ve done.”

Another school that could be affected is Dayton. The Dust Devils were runner-up in 3A state volleyeball and had great regular seasons in baseball and basketball.

“I don’t have a lot to say on the subject,” said Kevin Kranjec, Dayton athletic director. “I don’t have an opinion because I don’t know how it’s going to shake out. It’s hard to comment because we won’t know who would be dropping down yet. I’ve heard rumors that Hug might be coming down, but that’s all speculation. It will create stiffer competition in some of the sports.”

Another aspect of the realignment is transportation costs, specifically for schools such as Boulder City, Virgin Valley and Moapa Valley. However, Bonine said the cost savings in Las Vegas would add up as well as teams wouldn’t have to travel as much.

The remaining issue, though, is passing the legislation, which Bonine said he feels confident. But the Northern Nevada schools could say they want to remain in the 3A, which would leave them without Southern Nevada teams to compete against in the postseason.

One sport that would have trouble applying the rubric system would be swimming. In the North, athletes from smaller schools would have to join a school with a 4A Division I team, while every school in South competes leaving two divisions of swimming.

“There’s not enough kids in 4A Division II, because not everybody up here has swimming,” Bonine said.

Aside from swimming, the other sports would remain in the 4A Division II.

Bonine added the NIAA’s Northern realignment plan passed two years ago seems to be working with the current success of Fallon, Elko and South Tahoe this past year. Bonine said each school is up for review every two years.

“In four years you win nine state championships in four years in different sports, you’re going to find yourself moved up,” Bonine said. “The argument is ‘Oh we succeed, now we’re going to get hammered when we move up.’ Not neces