Prep sports 2

So, the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission’s proposal to expand to four classes in basketball is in the comment stage, huh?

Well, that must mean it’s my turn.

Stand back, it could get ugly.

That’s because the mere idea of using a convoluted formula instead of enrollment to determine which classification a school would be placed in is absolutely ludicrous.

As HD Media sports writer Ryan Pritt explained recently during an excellent story on this controversy, the formula includes everything from enrollment to a school’s proximity to its county seat to how close schools are to cities with populations of 10,000 or more to how many students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.


How many kitchen sinks the school has isn’t a component?

That might be the only factor missing.

This is high school athletics, folks. It’s not rocket science. But this SSAC formula is doing its best to make it just that complicated.

The result is even more inequity.

For example, utilizing this proposed formula would mean the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams at Winfield High School would move up to Class AAAA while the rest of the Generals’ sports would remain in Class AA.

That is incredibly inane.

This proposal should be voted down on this one premise alone. But wait, there is even more incredulity to come.

Buffalo would move up from Class A to Class AA mainly because of its location near the Putnam County seat in Winfield. So, under these guidelines, Buffalo would have the lowest enrollment of any public school in Class AA as well as fewer students than 11 schools remaining in Class A.

In what universe is this supposed to be fair or equitable?

What makes it even worse is this “formula” isn’t the only solution. Not by a long 3-point shot.

Another answer is simply to have the private schools play in their own division in a state tournament. In West Virginia’s case, there would be Class AAA, Class AA, Class A and Private School.

It is both the simplest answer and the most easily implemented.

That’s why five other states already are utilizing versions of this system, according to information from

In Georgia, separation of private and public schools in the state’s small-school division was approved in 2012. Nearby Virginia and Maryland have separate state associations and tournaments for public and private schools. Texas also has separate associations. And, in North Carolina, there are separate associations for independent and Christian schools.

Then, there’s the “multiplier” school of thought.

This was pioneered by Alabama in 1999. A 1.35 multiplier is applied to all private school enrollments because data indicates athletic participation in private schools is 35 percent greater than in public schools.

In Connecticut, a 2.0 multiplier is applied to basketball only. In Illinois, a 1.65 multiplier is used on private and non-boundary schools in all sports. In Missouri, a 1.35 multiplier is applied to private schools in all sports. An additional 2.0 multiplier is applied to single-gender schools.

In Tennessee, schools are divided into Division I for public and private schools that don’t provide financial aid and Division II for privates that offer financial aid. A 1.8 multiplier is added to privates in Division I.

So, there are ways around this private school problem, which don’t involve a convoluted formula that turns public schools’ athletics upside-down.

Here’s an idea.

Instead of rocket science, why not use some common sense?