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Change afoot for UHSAA

If a new proposal is adopted, the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) might change the way it aligns its 138 member schools starting in the 2011-12 school year.

"The feedback so far has been very positive," said UHSAA Executive Director Rob Cuff. "The procedure people really like it because we’ve been doing what we’ve been doing forever."

With the central aim of improving postseason bracketing, the proposal calls for a standardized number of teams in each region and regions in each classification, and it would also change the process through which teams are realigned.

A realignment classification committee would handle the objective analysis of data collected every two years – more frequent than the current four-year cycle. The committee’s decisions would also take effect faster, by the following high school season, meaning alignment models will last just more than two years instead of nearly six.

Only junior and senior class enrollment numbers would be used for the calculations to ensure that schools with high mobility or attrition are not at a disadvantage.

"Some of the concerns have been about keeping the rivalries alive," Cuff said of the early response to a UHSAA release sent out Wednesday. "Teams are also worried that they will have to go back and forth between regions, but that chaos is probably more fair and consistent than the current system."

Cuff admits that schools in the lower classifications will be "in flux," as an incongruous Class 1A will absorb whatever teams do not fit into the symmetrical two-or-four-region structure for Classes 2A-5A. Most teams in the higher classifications will rarely change classes, but the smaller 2A schools and larger 1A schools will shuffle frequently.

Park City High School’s Region 10 would have to add at least one member to reach an even six schools, like other regions in Class 3A. Beyond that, PCHS doesn’t expect dramatic changes anytime soon.

"For us, there’s really not that much difference from the old process," said PCHS Athletic Director Doug Payne, who said there will be some dissent with any policy. "It’s really tough (to realign) in a state like Utah where you have to travel so much."

Having six schools in Region 10 would help Park City’s football team, Payne said, because it’s tough to find a non-conference opponent late in the season while other Class 3A teams are playing full five-game conference schedules. PCHS still has yet to find an opponent for Week 8 this year.

South Summit High School Athletic Director Troy Coil said he didn’t foresee major changes for any of the Summit County schools, including 2A SSHS and North Summit High School.

"The trick will be having an even amount of teams in each classification," he said. "That’s going to be a small miracle."

Feedback for the proposal will be heard Aug. 25 at the UHSAA office in Midvale, and comments can also be submitted at the organization’s website (http://www.uhsaa.org). The final alignment plan would be adopted prior to Oct. 1, when the State Office of Education’s enrollment numbers will be released. The new regions and classifications would be announced by November, and changes would take effect for the 2011-12 fall season.

"This is more objective than it is subjective," Cuff said of the quick turnaround. "It doesn’t take as much time to plug in numbers."


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