NIAA considers realignment

Joey Crandall
Sun News Service

Nevada high school sports appear to be in store for sweeping changes for the 2009-’10 school year.

Reducing the cost of high school sporting activities was the topic of a Thursday meeting attended by all 17 county school superintendents and the legislative commission of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association.

While no concrete plans were set forward, realigning the NIAA’s competitive leagues down to three classifications is one major change on the table.

Douglas County Superintendent Carol Lark said the association presented several ideas to reduce costs to the state’s schools.

“They stepped forward to come up with solutions,” Lark said. “Nothing was voted on, but we all agreed to cut back on some athletic events and meets.”

In a formal statement issued Friday by NIAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine, he said the officer was “working on an equitable and reasonable plan to save dollars through reducing travel by establishing regular season leagues via geographical mapping and blending of presently established classifications.”

Lark said she felt it was a good idea for the state’s 17 school districts to work together.

“We talked about cutting tournaments,” she said. “It’s much better if we can do it all together than separately, so that one group doesn’t feel like they’re being unduly punished. I’m pleased to see Mr. Bonine step forward and be willing to take a part.”

Altering the state’s leagues could mean shorter trips for Nevada’s rural schools. Bonine said proposed reductions and the realignment of the state’s Class 3A schools will be released on Monday.

The proposal that would bring the most visible change to the current make-up of the NIAA is to bump the 3A classification into the 4A.

Sources around the region have said the 4A would subsequently be split into Division I and II leagues, although the basis for the grouping for the divisions has ranged from geographic to competitive.

The change most likely would be uniform for all schools in all sports except for football, where some schools may drop to what is now the 2A for safety reasons or simply not being able to compete at the 4A level.

Sources have said the changes could be made as early as the coming school year, depending on what the state budget calls for and what the superintendents vote. Administrators have been put on the ready to re-draw the fall sports schedules if it comes to it, although no one has said yet if that will be necessary or not.

“I think overall we’re just trying to help out and save money where we can,” Douglas High athletic administrator Jeff Evans said. “That’s the main goal, is try to prevent job loss. There are a number of proposals out there and we’re just kind of waiting to see what happens.”

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