Oklahoma system might be a great compromise to fix Kansas high school athletics classes Print
Friday, 24 November 2017 18:05

By EARL WATT

• Leader & Times

With SB 145 pending in the Kansas Senate when the new session begins in January, a decades long effort to finally get justice in Kansas high school athletics may be on the horizon.

I have discussed the issue with our elected officials here, and they have indicated support for changing the law that will allow the Kansas State High School Activities Association the ability to determine classifications on more than simple student attendance.

Back in 2010, KSHSAA Executive Director Gary Musselman said, “The guiding thought has to be doing the right thing and what the majority of the membership supports, whatever that might do.”alt

Here we are almost eight years later, and KSHSAA has yet to make the adjustment, stating that this state law is necessary for them to make the necessary change that 82 percent of the member schools want.

While I originally favored Missouri’s system for modifying the way students are counted in private schools, I can accept the system that is currently in use in Oklahoma.

The Missouri system takes all private schools regardless of success by a multiplier of 1.35. This bumps up all private schools.

In Texas, all private schools compete in a separate class.

In Arkansas, all private schools are bumped up a class regardless of success, and any public school that wants to voluntarily move up a higher class can also do so.

Illinois has a system that bumps private schools with a 1.65 multiplier, also takes into account success, and provides an option to bump a school to a higher class if that school desires.

But Oklahoma’s system only bumps schools that have had multiple years of success in a given sport.

How would this affect Class 5A in Kansas?

Bishop Carroll and St. Thomas Aquinas would move up a class in virtually every sport because they have finished in the final four or eight in virtually every post-season competition for years.

St. James Academy (a relatively news school) and Bishop Miege would move up a class in sports like girls volleyball and girls golf because they have dominated these sports for years.

Kapaun would probably bump up a class in boys soccer where they have dominated for quite some time, but Kapaun has not dominated in other sports, leaving them in Class 5A in those sports.

This way, only private schools that have eclipsed competitiveness in their class would be affected, and private schools that are not seeing any competitive advantage won’t be affected at all.

The delay on addressing this issue has been too long, and the opportunity is now.

When the Legislature makes this slight change to the state law governing KSHSAA, the governing body should implement the corrective action immediately.

There will be an attempt to drag their feet, but a decade long delay is long enough.

Musselman is set to retire in 2018, and it would be the right time for him to orchestrate this much-needed change that a vast majority of the schools he serves has wanted for more than a decade.

Let’s try the Oklahoma system that is the most lenient on private schools and focuses only on disparity of success that some schools have had over extended periods of time. Other private schools would not be affected.

While I originally preferred an adjustment for all private schools, I now believe based on the research and testimony provided that the Oklahoma system provides the fairest road forward.