CHSAA's classification structure to be examined by new subcommittee

(Ryan Casey/CHSAANow.com)

(Ryan Casey/CHSAANow.com)

AURORA — A new subcommittee will look at the way Colorado high school sports are broken into classifications.

During its meeting at the CHSAA office on Tuesday, the Classification and League Organization Committee unanimously voted to create a subcommittee that will explore how the current classification system is working, and if any changes should be made to it.

The group also met on Monday evening, when the topic was first discussed.

"I think it's an important decision, because it could change basically the face of what high school athletics are in Colorado," CLOC chair Randy Holmen, the superintendent of Genoa-Hugo School District, said during the meeting.

Any changes the subcommittee were to implement would come with the 2020-22 two-year cycle.

Currently, CHSAA's entire classification structure is based off of enrollment, and has been since they were first implemented in 1933. (The Association, founded in 1921, didn't have separate classifications for any sports until football split into Class A and Class B at that time. No other sport used classifications until boys basketball did so in 1938.) So any shift away from an enrollment-only system would be a major event.

Starting with the 2016-18 cycle, CLOC tried to balance an equal number of teams into each classification. That was the first change to the structure, though enrollment remains the determining factor of where teams land.

Among possible changes to classification could be a move to a system that considers success (or lack thereof) in addition to enrollment. CLOC was briefed on a similar system used by California on Monday.

"Are there other things we can look at to do what's best for kids in a way that's competitively equitable?" asked CLOC member Larry Bull, the district athletic director of Cherry Creek Schools.

This could include highly successful teams moving up in classification, and teams that have struggled moving down. Historical data could be used in making that decision.

"We've classified by numbers alone for so long that it's hard to think of a different paradigm," said CLOC member Chris Cline, the athletic director at Northridge. "I think it's time for a committee to take a look at something beyond just enrollment."

The subcommittee could also explore adding another classification.

"The conversation needs to be sport-specific," Bull said.

Holmen agreed, saying, "Individual sport committees need to start talking about this."

Many of those committees will start meeting as soon as next week.

Ultimately, "This is about starting a conversation about growth, about what it looks like competitively," Bull added.

The subcommittee will likely be put together in the near future, and then have an initial meeting in January 2017, according to CHSAA commissioner Paul Angelico.

"It's wide open," Angelico said of the new subcommittee. "They could do anything from simply adding a class, to using California as a model, to having to apply for your classification, to changing nothing."