MIDVALE — Six classifications in Utah high school sports moved a step closer to reality — but only in football.
"There needs to be some homework done before we go to (six classifications in all sports)," said Ben Lomond principal Ben Smith. "I don't think we're prepared to do that yet."
The Board of Trustees for the Utah High School Activities Association approved a proposal to divide the state's football teams into six classifications rather than five in a Thursday morning meeting. The same group voted not to consider an additional classification in all other sports despite a plea to do so from a group during Wednesday night's public hearing.
During the public hearing, a group of 3A schools — Juab, Carbon, North Sanpete, Delta and Union — presented a proposal that would add an additional classification in all sports, stressing that the inequities in population and competition were not confined to football.
Representatives from 2A and some 1A schools said they'd heard from patrons who wanted smaller ratios in all sports because it was just as important for the basketball or soccer team to be competitive as it was for the school's football team.
Others, mostly from 3A schools, said they had heard just the opposite.
"Their feeling was that it kind of did water things down," said Craig Seegmiller, who represents Region 9. "Let's try it in football for a couple of years and see how it works."
Given the choice, he said, they'd rather stick with the status quo than make a move that would possibly have unintended consequences.
Smith, who said he appreciated the issues of rural schools as he coached at a small Wyoming school for 15 years, said they needed to study the issue more in-depth before changing the entire alignment structure.
"We haven't looked at what the costs would be, at all the impacts," he said. "There is some groundwork that would have to be done before we could go to six classifications in all sports."
One issue is that some smaller schools already juggle multiple regions — and even classifications — for their athletic programs.
Bill Boyle pointed out that Milford, a 1A school with a strong athletic program, competes in five different regions because some sports (like swimming and soccer) don't even have five classifications at this time.
"The reality is that we all want to have the opportunity to compete," Smith acknowledged.
The BOT did form a committee to begin studying the impact on other activities if they move to at least one more classification than is currently in place.
For the complete realignment proposal go to www.uhsaa.org. The state's schools will not be divided into classifications and regions until next October's enrollment numbers are released. The alignment will be finalized in November by the BOT and will begin the fall of 2013.