Conway’s Jordan among group proposing alternative classification plan for high school sports

For The Sun NewsJanuary 21, 2013 

A third option for the classification system for South Carolina High School League athletics teams could be gaining steam.

The proposal, spearheaded by Conway’s Chuck Jordan, Gilbert’s Barry Harley and others, would move all sports into a three-class system, as opposed to the four-class system currently in use. The proposal would then split each class in two for playoff purposes, meaning each sport would end up with six state champions.

Currently, football awards seven state titles, while the rest award four.

This will be at least the third time a proposal of this sort has come up, although the first two times didn’t warrant much consideration from the SCHSL Executive Committee.

“I think we have cheapened what a state championship is,” Jordan said Monday. “We have too many in football and not enough in other sports.

“The chances of this thing going through are greater than they were two years ago and greater than they were four years ago. Now, will it happen? I have no idea. It’s hard to change away from something you’ve done for a long, long time and has merit.”

In reality, the newest proposal is at its infant stages.

The SCHSL Executive Committee was already set to meet at 10 a.m. Tuesday morning in Columbia to discuss, among other items, a five-classification football-only proposal that was put into motion during the fall. That proposal would decrease the number of state football titles each year by two without affecting the other sports.

What Jordan and Co. will do Tuesday morning is ask the Executive Committee to delay a vote on that until the next scheduled meeting later in the school year. That could give the proponents of the newest proposal time to examine it.

In many ways, Green Sea Floyds Athletics Director Doug Hinson said, it will prevent the other sports from being left behind while football continues to add more people searching for an alternative.

“Right now, you have people making the playoffs who are 1-9. That’s not very good,” he said. “You’re passing out state championships in A for every 26 teams. Is that a true state champion?”

Hinson pointed out that the newest proposal – which would have three 68-team classes with regions that vary from six to 10 teams – would allow each region more power in scheduling games. That would help schools that are either too far away from other teams in the same classification or can’t afford to play them based on current football-based points systems.

The newest proposal would eliminate much of the annual struggle to fill out schedules with so many non-region teams.

“From a scheduling standpoint, they do it anyway,” said Hinson, who is also the Green Sea Floyds softball coach. “We had to pick up people like Dillon and Aynor and North Myrtle Beach and Loris. Those aren’t Class A schools. We have to do that to make out a schedule.”

There are parts of the newest proposal, however, that are yet to be determined. For starters, a standard points system that would be applied to all three classifications has barely been discussed.

Also at hand is the fact that the five-team football-only classification is gaining popularity. In order for the newest one to go through, the Executive Committee on Tuesday morning will have to vote to wait on the football-only proposal.

The Executive Committee could also vote to keep the status quo.

“It’s quite a bit different than what we’re doing now, obviously,” Jordan said. “It takes time for new ideas to come to fruition. We have planted that seed the last two realignments. We’re going to plant that seed again and see how it does.”

Contact IAN GUERIN at ian@ianguerin.com.

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