Border brawl: Survey results favor allowing Truckee to compete in Nevada sports
Things are not looking as good as Jeff Knutson may have planned them.
A recent “interest” survey by the Moapa Valley High School football coach and leader of the movement to kick California schools out of Nevada sports league competition fell two votes shy of the needed two-thirds majority.
Though it was only a survey – a precursor to the official vote which will come at the end of February in Reno – it was an indication that the Nevada Coalition for Nevada High School Athletes faces an uphill battle.
Of the 18 schools polled, 11 voted to remove non-Nevada-based high schools from the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association.
Among 220 coaches, 123 voted for removal.
The actual wording of the survey allowed coaches and administrators, who had to sign their names to the vote, two options.
Option one read, “Only high schools physically located within the state of Nevada should be allowed to compete for Nevada high school athletic state championships.”
Option two read: “No changes should take place concerning the status of schools located in California that compete for Nevada high school athletic state championships.”
Voting most heavily for option one were Div. 3 schools, located in Southern Nevada, with a four-to-one margin for removal.
The results do not disclose which schools voted which way.
“On the survey, each coach has to sign their name,” said Truckee Principal Dennis LeBlanc. “When you have to do that, you have a tendency to do the right thing. When this is all about winning, most coaches say, ‘this isn’t right.'”
LeBlanc and TTHS Athletic Director Chris Driesback both said they were positive about the results.
Knutson has vowed to take his fight to the Nevada State Legislature if the upcoming vote should fail.
Good luck, said LeBlanc.
“I think what they’re finding is that there is not a great deal of interest at the state legislature level,” LeBlanc said.
Despite the vote of confidence from a majority of Nevada-based high schools, TTHS is looking at the options within California.
Driesback and North Tahoe Athletic Director Ed Turner recently met with officials of Sac-Joaquin Section 3 of the Golden Empire League to discuss possible membership.
The league consists of schools in Sacramento, Napa and surrounding area.
Turner and Driesback attended a realignment meeting of the California league, a subsection of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), mostly “to put a face with our names.”
The largest school in the league is Natomas with 1,406, while Golden Sierra is the smallest with 587.
Schools include Colfax, Dixon, Encina, Lincoln, Lindhurst, Loretto, Marysville, Mesa Verde, River City, Vanden and Union Mine in addition to Golden Sierra and Natomas.
Driesback said North Tahoe has expressed some interest in checking out the Northern Section. Truckee would be in the Southern Section, which could end the long-standing Laker and Wolverine league rivalry, although both teams would continue to play each other.
The biggest problem
Perhaps Truckee’s biggest problem is an extremely tight deadline.
Results of the official vote could come as late as Feb. 27, and the CIF realignment committee would need an answer about Truckee’s membership by March 1.
“It will need to be a quick decision,” LeBlanc said. “The problem is, if it goes to the state legislature, we might not know until June.”
Not notifying the CIF until June would erase Truckee’s chances of joining the league any earlier than the 2000-2001 school year, due to CIF realignment.
If expelled from the NIAA, Truckee would be almost immediately removed from the league, leaving 1999-2000 athletic schedules in jeopardy.
“We could be looking at a four-game football schedule next year,” LeBlanc said. “And our girls’ soccer program would be defunct.”
He said this is because girls’ soccer is played as a winter sport in the CIF.
“We could have one year of really hurting and I don’t know if this community would put up with that,” he said.
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