The much anticipated public/private split in Tennessee for high school athletics never materialized on Wednesday in a special called Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) Board of Control meeting. Members of the board of control met at the Hermitage offices of the TSSAA to consider classification for all sports. The Board of Control voted for several new guidelines for the classification period that will begin with the 2017-2018 school year and run through 2020-2
Division I schools (public schools and no financial aid allowed private schools) and Division II schools (schools that offer financial aid) will remain unchanged for classification purposes. Private schools that do not offer financial aid will be classified in Division I using a 1.8 multiplier on enrollment for classification purposes. The Board voted for the state office staff to set District/Regional Alignments and publish them when they are finalized. This will be done prior to the November Board of Control meeting, giving schools an opportunity to appeal if they feel they have a legitimate reason.
In Division I, the classification for each sport will be determined as such:
> Board voted to have six classes in Division I football, split evenly.
> Board voted to have three classes in basketball, baseball, and softball in Division I which is unchanged from the previous system.
> Board voted to have three classes in volleyball, split by participating schools in Division I.
> Board voted to have three classes in soccer, split by participating schools in Division I.
> Board voted to have two classes, split by participating schools (small/large) in cross country, track and field, golf, and tennis in Division I.
> Board voted to have two classes in wrestling, which is unchanged from the previous system.
> Board voted to have one class in bowling in Division I.
Additionally, the TSSAA Board voted to rotate which football championship games are played on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday – three games each day – each year. Currently, Division II games are held on Thursday with Classes 1A,3A and 5A held on Friday and classes 2A, 4A and 6A on Saturday. Under the Board’s ruling, Division II will be on Thursday in 2016, Friday in 2017, etc.
Division II football will be divided into three classes. Schools with enrollments up to 265 will be in Class A. Schools with enrollments 266-530 will be in Class AA. Schools with enrollments 531 and above will be in AAA. The sports of wrestling and bowling in Division II will be one class. Classification in Division II for all sports other than football, wrestling, and bowling will be divided into two classes. Schools with enrollments of 450 and below will be in Class A. Schools with enrollments above 450 will be in Class AA.
Thunder Radio spoke to CHS head football coach and athletic director Ryan Sulkowski following the TSSAA meeting. “We will see where our numbers fall (after the fall enrollment) and deal with it at that point” said Sulkowski. “We anticipate that we will remain in the top classification for each sport” added Sulkowski “but it is a strong possibility that some sports will have changes in their district alignments(in the new system).”
The Board voted that the state office to continue to reevaluate every member school’s enrollment figures after two years during the four year classification cycle. Schools that have a 20% decrease/increase in enrollment which causes them to move to another class are moved at that time. The Board also voted to allow school to request to move up in classification on a sport-by-sport basis.