AURORA — All of CHSAA's team sports will follow a similar postseason qualification format — namely, the use of an RPI system — beginning with the 2016-17 season.
The change, which marks a major shift in philosophy for the Association, comes after CHSAA's Board of Directors adopted a new policy on Saturday mandating consistency across postseason qualification for all team sports. The crux of that consistency is the use of an RPI (Rating Percentage Index) formula to set postseason fields.
"We think it's fair, we think it's going to fit in all sports," said Eddie Hartnett, the president of CHSAA's Board of Directors, "and we do think, as a Board, that other states will look at us as ground-breaking. It's transparent and consistent."
For a long time, schools have asked CHSAA for more consistency when it comes to postseason qualification.
According to the new policy, signed by Hartnett, "All 'team' sports committees will use the RPI formula as the determining factor for postseason qualifiers." A letter — seen below — containing full details of the policy will be passed out to each member of a team sports committee ahead of their meeting.
An RPI takes into account a team's winning percentage (WP), the winning percentage of their opponents (OWP), and the winning percentage of their opponents' opponents (OOWP). The specific formula to be used will be:
RPI = (¼ × WP) + (½ × OWP) + (¼ × OOWP)
The simplicity of the formula, and the ability to understand and explain it, was key for the Board.
"The thing that I believe is truly the best thing about the RPI system is its transparency," Hartnett said. "There's no mysterious algorithm. There's no point differential that comes into play. Point differential is absolutely against what we stand for in high school sports in Colorado."
Individual sports committees will still have wiggle room under the new policy. For example, they can choose to protect league champions, or add other factors in — such as a CHSAANow.com coaches poll, or a "weighting system based upon home, away and neutral sites."
The Board met for roughly five hours on Saturday, and a big portion of that was devoted to discussion of the RPI. The group heard input from the CHSAA staff in that process.
"When we looked at the different methods we have utilized in the past, and while in the past they were very appropriate, and the best in what we had at the time, we feel that RPI will be more fair and more consistent and more transparent than any other form of qualification that we have used before," Hartnett said.
"We were able to evaluate the different systems that were in place with CHSAA, and nationally, and we took the time to evaluate what works with other states and other associations, including the NCAA and NAIA, and we were able to look at what would fit best in Colorado," he added. "We strongly feel as a Board that the RPI system is the way to go."
Already, football has adopted the use of an RPI formula to determine postseason qualifiers for each of its seven classifications. That committee has selected to protect league champions.
Some details still need to be worked out with the RPI formula, including a classification modifier, and if there is to be one.
New playoff qualification policy from Board of Directors
Download: Playoff qualification policy