By Mary Granath and Ron Espinola Posted December 16, 2009
Realignment has been talked about for years but now it seems it may actually happen.
The NIAA is currently considering several options that would drastically change the composition of the Northern 3A.
The current league consists of nine schools except for football for which there are only eight.
One option is not viewed as a permanent solution especially considering the reduced number of teams in the Southern 3A.
This option would have Virgin Valley, Moapa, and Boulder City play against 4A opponents such as Chaparral for league play and then break apart for playoffs. The Northern 3A would remain the same with the possible additions of Fallon, South Tahoe, Elko, and Wooster. The north would also break out for playoffs.
The second option under consideration seems to have more support. This proposal would form three new leagues in the north (see page 2) which would include current 2A, 3A, and 4A teams.
Ruby Mt. Lowry
Lyon Cnty. Dayton
Mt. Rose Sparks
Example of one of the 3A realignment proposals.
- Depends on school agreeing to join league.
Football Only Lowry
Although there are some negatives, the plan does help districts save money. Under the plan, each school affected in the north would save in terms of travel time and money due to the regional composition of the leagues. In addition, this is already done for soccer.
“If it came down to where we were going to have a six-team league, six in the north and three in the south, or this, I would take this,” said Lowry Athletic Director Byron Jeppsen.
The south would include several 4A schools that have had difficulty competing in recent years.
For example, Mojave is 2-16 in football in the last two years. However, the boy’s basketball team is 42-11 during the same period.
“One worry that some might have is many of these schools are very good at boys basketball,” said Jeppsen.
One of the major drawbacks of this option is that smaller schools such as Whittell and North Tahoe would regularly play schools several times their size.
In addition, a larger school may be able to dominate a sport until the next realignment. However, the plan may include a trigger that would force a school to go up if it excels in post-season play. The trigger would activate based on a point system for certain finishes in the playoffs. For example, a state championship would be worth 500 points. If the school earned 2500 points over a two-year period, it would trigger up. This would only apply to schools with more than 2500 students.
In addition, qualifying for the post-season is yet to be determined. One option is a point system in which qualifying for the post-season would depend upon a school’s record against larger schools. For example, four points would be awarded for beating a 4A team, three for a 3A team and so on. The drawback of this option is that schools in central and eastern Nevada are unlikely to get the opportunity to play 4A teams out of league.
“That [point system] puts us at… maybe at a little of a disadvantage, because our 2A neighbors are really good football schools,” said Jeppsen.
Wendover would save the most by cutting off almost 3600 miles of travel for round trips. Meanwhile, Lowry would be one of the least impacted with a reduction of only 202 miles. Washoe County would save approximately $150,000 while statewide the savings would be over $500,000. However, there would be crossover games that were not calculated into the travel distances.
Jeppsen agrees with making a change but thinks it can be improved.
“I think there needs to be more divisions than just these three (see table), to put us in a division with Lovelock and Fallon,” said Jeppsen.
A direct benefit of less travel is that student-athletes would miss fewer classes.
The plan would also create more balance between the northern and southern 3A. Currently, the north has three times the number of schools and therefore gets more representation at state tournaments. A larger overall division could give a state title more meaning to the winner.
“Most of the Northern 3A is in agreement; we like competition. We want our state title to mean something.”
The decision of realignment is still pending and athletic directors from all schools are continuing to discuss options.
“They want to try to do things sooner than later,” Jeppsen said.