The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 5, 2013

Schremmer: Class 4A split will have to do

By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer

— Complaints about the disparity in Kansas Class 4A are nothing new.

I remember talking to the late Craig Crespino, who coached football at Girard High School, about the issue in the early 2000s.

Even back then, it seemed apparent that schools like Girard and Fort Scott didn’t belong in the same classification. After all, the entire point of breaking school competitions into classes is to put similar schools together.

When that system pairs Pittsburg High School, which is the only public school in a city of 20,000, with Frontenac High School, which is in a town of 3,400, the point has been lost. In the previous five school years, 80 percent of the 4A state championships were won by the classification’s larger 32 schools.

Girard Middle School principal Randy Heatherly and officials from Holton and Pratt created a proposal that would split Class 4A into 32-school divisions. The KSHSAA board approved the proposal, sending it to a vote by the current 64 schools in 4A. Schools must submit a ballot by June 3. If the measure passes by a simple majority, it will be applied to volleyball, boys and girls basketball and softball for the 2013-14 school year. The change wouldn’t start in football until the fall of 2014.

Reducing the disparity, which has a 2.83 ratio from 4A’s largest school Topeka Highland Park with 729 students to Frontenac with 258 students, is a no-brainer. The split would make the ratio about 1.6 for each, which is comparable to the other classifications.

However, it would be nice if the discrepancy could be fixed without adding another classification. Kansas will have eight classes if it passes.

The best solution I’ve heard is from Topeka Capital-Journal sports reporter Brent Maycock. Instead of having the state’s largest 32 schools form 6A and the next 32 make up 5A and the next 64 for 4A, his idea would split each of the classes into 48 schools.

It would solve much of the disparity issues without having to add another class or the costs associated with doing so.

The problem is that this idea has little to no chance of happening. You see, this proposal would allow every school in the state to vote. More than likely, the majority of the 6A and 5A schools would be against this format, because adding 16 schools to compete against wouldn’t be in their best interest.

This is really the root of the problem and why it has taken so long to address the issue in 4A. Since changes can’t be made without all of the affected schools having a vote, little can be accomplished. Understandably, the majority of schools vote for what’s best for their individual school rather than the state as a whole.

If an elected board of representatives were allowed to make these decisions, maybe proposals like the one from Maycock could become a reality.

But under the current conditions, the 4A split will have to do. The inequity has gone on for too long.

“This is the option on the table right now,” Frontenac athletics director Chad Ulepich said. “We’ve noticed there’s a problem with 4A. There’s a huge discrepancy and this would do something about it. I’m not saying this is the end-all, be-all and would solve all the problems, but it’s moving in the right direction. It’s definitely a step in the right direction.”