NFHSAA reconsiders 3 class system

VALLEY CITY -- The fate of a new 3-class proposal for basketball and volleyball will soon be in the hands of North Dakota High School Activities Association members.

VALLEY CITY -- The fate of a new 3-class proposal for basketball and volleyball will soon be in the hands of North Dakota High School Activities Association members.

The NDHSAA Board of Directors voted 8-2 Tuesday to allow the plan on the agenda for a binding vote in October at the organization's general assembly meeting in Bismarck.

"Any change that happens is going to have to be membership driven," Board member Phil Eastgate of Beulah said to Edgeley Superintendant Rick Diegel, one of the authors of the proposal. "I would say that you keep the boat upright. That's your group's job. And let it be membership driven to get something done."

The Board came under fire when it floated its own 3-class proposal in January 2009. That plan was defeated by the Board 7-3 after a survey of members showed opposition to a 3-class system held an 87-76 majority.

The Board was also criticized in 2008 when it changed the enrollment cutoff for Class A from 325 to 400, which allowed Valley City to drop to Class B.


Edgeley and LaMoure later co-sponsored an amendment to the NDHSAA bylaws to move the cutoff back to 325.

NDHSAA members voted 70-34 to move the enrollment cutoff back and thrust Valley City, with an enrollment of about 370, back into Class A.

"We took the process and took the step forward, wanting to move Valley City to 'B.' Why did you guys go a long way to see that?" Board member Jack Maus of Grafton said to Diegel. "Now it looks like you are trying to sneak Valley City into this one. To me, we already did that.

"You are the ones that led it back to 325. I have a real tough time taking two steps forward and then going back a step. ... When you try to do something for the best and get shot down, the wounds are still pretty deep."

Board president and Fargo Davies Principal Jeff Schatz said the NDHSAA was subjected to personal attacks from North Dakota high school superintendents for its proposal.

"There was a plan to move Valley City to Class B. There was a 3-class plan. It was voted on," Schatz said. "Now all the sudden we want to go back? You want to be careful on that move. It wasn't until we did that move that everyone came out of the watershed. ... I've always believed a 3-class plan should be (passed). But I would never go through that process again from what I experienced in the process."

A collaborative effort of 13 school districts from all parts of the state, the plan would leave current Class A the same -- only to be re-named Class 2A.

The next 40 schools with the highest enrollment would make up Class A and the rest - approximately 80 schools - would be Class B.


Basketball and volleyball state tournaments would combine teams from Class A and Class B. Each class would advance four teams to state, ensuring four schools with smaller enrollments would have a chance at a championship.

Class A would have four region tournaments. Class B would hold eight district tournaments en route to four region tournaments.

Class A and Class B teams would play in separate brackets until the final day of the tournament to create a matchup between a larger school and a smaller school.

The plan was created by representatives from Edgeley, Valley City, Fargo, Grafton, Enderlin, Beulah, Barnes County North, Griggs County Central, Jamestown, Dayton, Richland, Wyndmere and Lewis & Clark-Berthold.

In 2008, a straw poll of NDHSAA members showed 78 against and 55 in favor of a 3-class system for basketball and volleyball.

A 3-class plan was also defeated 120-49 in 2005.

Valley City Public Schools Superintendent Dean Koppelman said the proposal could be tweaked for the October vote after getting input from coaches and administrators.

If the plan is defeated, Koppelman said it is possible the group would go back to the drawing board to come up with a new 3-class plan.


"It's possible. We haven't taken it that far in our discussions," he said. "I'm sure we would want to sit back, evaluate and have a discussion about it."

Heath Hotzler is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.

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