Vote changes rule on football classification

Friday, May 13, 2016

The future of football classification breaks in Missouri is changing.

Among the several proposals passed by the Missouri State High School Activities Association at its annual election last week, members included the decision to allow football classification breaks to be made annually based on yearly enrollment data rather than every other year. A 173-135 vote ratified the by-law change, which will likely shake up the playoff and class scheme on a yearly basis.

MSHSAA's annual ballot was sent to all its member schools, and the results of their votes were released May 5.

Last month, MSHSAA released its upcoming two-year classifications for basketball and football, and while those will remain the same through the 2017 season, proposals that passed will be effective July 1, 2016, with the exception of the annual enrollment collection classification and determination in football, which will not go into effect until July 1, 2018.

The new system drew mostly favorable reviews from area athletic directors.

"I think it might be good for some of the schools right now with a declining enrollment," Malden athletic director Tim Harmon said. "If we do it year-to-year it'll be maybe a truer classification and might be good for some of the smaller schools."

Larger schools aren't fully on board with the change yet, citing scheduling conflicts among other things.

"We voted against it just because we're on a two-year cycle with scheduling. It's probably not going to effect us that much but it could effect who we're playing and whether they dropped down a classification or not before we play them," Poplar Bluff athletic director Kent Keith said. "Plus I think it's just a headache for other schools with changing scheduling, not knowing who you're going to play and where you're going to have to travel each year. Apparently we were on the minority on that, I don't know."

Amendments to by-laws require a simple majority vote by members, while amendments to the constitution require a 2/3 majority for passage. Keith said he thought the vote would not pass after a ballot hearing prior to the vote.

"When we went through all the ballot issues up in Tan-Tar-A a month or so ago, they took straw polls and the consensus from all of the ADs that I got was that it wasn't going to pass," Keith said. "Of course, not all ADs go to that, but I am surprised."

Another proposal regarding football and one of its hot-button issues failed.

Proposal 1 on the docket would have amended Article V, Section 1 of the MSHSAA Constitution to require member schools to pay insurance fees for coverage of participants to include a per student athlete charge for concussion insurance. The vote failed 265-228.

MSHSAA and its member schools also voted to deregulate no-contact periods during the fall, winter and spring sports seasons for students participating in non-school camps, clinics and group sport lessons during that seven-day span. Contact with school coaches and open facilities, however, will continue to be restricted during the seven days prior to the first allowable practice date.

In basketball, an amendment passed that will allow individuals to play in two separate tournaments during the same calendar week without limitation, meaning that a player who competes at both the junior varsity and varsity level can play in two tournaments in one week. This does not allow a player that plays on multiple levels to play for the JV and the varsity team if both are participating in the same basketball tournament.

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