Thoughts on realignment |

Thoughts on realignment

I’ve never been one to take shots at the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association over the years, feeling at times it has taken more criticism than the governing body really deserved.

Nevada could be the most challenging state in the nation to govern when it comes to high school athletics and in my opinion many involved in athletics in this state haven’t had enough perspective to realize that. I find it ironic that people in this state who don’t want anything to do with California seem to think that athletics in Nevada can be governed in the same way as say, a state like California.

I’ve written before that the biggest problem Nevada has faced over the years – a problem California by and large doesn’t have to deal with – is having enough mid-sized schools not spread out over several hundred miles to form a decent 3A division.

But while I don’t believe in unfairly criticizing the NIAA, I’m not going to praise it either for doing something that should be done. The latest proposal – and it is just that a proposal – for realignment that won’t go into effect for three years calls for five schools – Hug, Elko, Fallon, South Tahoe and Wooster to drop from 4A to 3A.

This to me was a no-brainer, but not so says NIAA assistant director Donnie Nelson. But Nelson did admit “it was just really the committee looking at balancing the 3A.”

The committee is the realignment committee made up of representatives from all factions in the state.

Nelson had to be careful with his words because he knows that asking some schools to drop a level is an emotional issue. So while Nelson commented on the proposal allowing schools to “be more competitive,” he said, “it’s not that,” when commenting on if that was a reason for the idea.

But he did say, “it’s just to help find a competitive balance.” While all the factions were represented on the committee, the proposal was presented without any input from the schools.

All the schools will have a chance to provide input and a final proposal should be approved by the NIAA in the spring. Whatever’s approved won’t be put in place until the fall, 2008.

“That was just a recommendation,” said Nelson about the proposal. “We’re a long way away.”

The other major proponent of the proposal does allow schools to move up or drop down a level in certain sports. In the past, the NIAA has really never liked the idea of schools dropping down in certain sports, only allowing it in extreme situations.

Now schools like Hug can drop down to 3A in most sports, but stay up in the 4A in sports like football, basketball and track where its had plenty of success. The proposal, though, would require that schools stay at a certain level for the entire four-year period of the realignment cycle.

Nelson said there’s still a concern about schools “bouncing around” from level to level. But he said another alternative could be to require schools to stay at a certain level for just two years.

“There will never be a perfect cycle that will fit the state,” Nelson said. “It just will never happen.

“The realignment process in our state, it’s very difficult to do. You try to recommend what’s best for the majority.”

But Nelson also said he understands the dissenting voices “and they’re understandable.”

Nelson also said schools who compete in the 3A should take just as much pride as schools who compete in the 4A.

“I heard the word pride used,” Nelson said. “That’s a tricky word. You are going to have pride no matter who you compete against or at what level.”

HUGHES STEPPING DOWN has reported that NIAA executive director Jerry Hughes is resigning after 17 years in the position to accept a faculty position at UNLV, beginning on Jan. 16.

While Hughes still doesn’t want to confirm his leaving until everything is official that should be done today or Friday when the University Board of Regents is expect to approve Hughes’ contract at UNLV, reported.

Hughes was the typical administrator as the late Red Smith put it that you had to “take a little off the top,” so you just didn’t regurgitate the line he wanted you to use. But I felt Hughes did an admirable job considering the challenges he faced.