CHARLESTON — For now, the new four-class basketball system in West Virginia moves ahead as planned.
A proposal to alter the formula used in determining classification assignments for the Secondary School Activities Commission’s four divisions in boys and girls basketball was tabled Wednesday by the State Board of Education.
Seven other SSAC proposals progressed to the public comment stage, while one other was also tabled, that dealing with classification appeals.
Last month, the SSAC Board of Control, by a 121-19 vote, passed a proposal put forth by Wirt County that would eliminate the proximity to the county seat component from the formula used to determine the new basketball classifications, which have yet to be applied.
The new classifications, adopted last July, run on a two-year trial basis for basketball only beginning in the 2020-21 school year, and are based on a formula that takes into account school enrollment numbers (70 percent), socioeconomic factors (10 percent), a school’s proximity to its county seat (10 percent) and a school’s proximity to a city with a population greater than 10,000 (10 percent).
Previously, classes were based solely on enrollment figures, and three classes had been used in basketball since 1959.
However, that Wirt County proposal was shot down by unanimous Board of Education vote on Wednesday. Bernie Dolan, the SSAC’s executive director, said it was probably too early to think about tweaking a system that hasn’t even gotten off the ground.
“I don’t think we said we’d never take a look at it,’’ Dolan said. “But we haven’t even played it out. All we’ve done is classify it. We haven’t played out the tournament to see, in fact, whether you think you might not be able to play (in your new class), but you can.
“Because of the (coronavirus pandemic), we didn’t get out to schools what that elimination (of the county seat proximity value) would look like and how that would impact certain schools. They voted on it without seeing it. I think certain schools might have voted differently if we had.’’
If county seat proximity was removed from the formula, Wirt would fall from Class AA in the new four-division setup to Class A. Dolan said seven schools would have gone up one class if that value was eliminated, and seven would go down one class.
“It’s not over,’’ Dolan said. “I think it will come back up when this two-year period is over, as we get data to see if the proposal does what it’s intended to do.’’
The new classifications and the formula to decide them were created to balance the classes and create more parity among schools, especially in the lower classes.
Private schools have dominated Class A basketball in recent years, with 17 of the last 21 boys championships and 26 of the last 28 girls titles going to private schools.
Six private schools moved up from Class A in the old three-division format to the new Class AA — Wheeling Central, Charleston Catholic, Notre Dame, Trinity Christian, Huntington St. Joseph and Parkersburg Catholic. The other two private schools, Greater Beckley Christian and Madonna, remain in the smallest division, Class A.
The other Board of Control proposals that did advance to the public comment period will be voted on at the next Board of Education meeting. Two of the more noteworthy involved increasing the number of flex days schools can use for out-of-season coaching from the current six to 12, and increasing the retail value of awards that can be given to an athlete from the current $20 per event to $100.
Two examples of the latter would be in-season basketball tournaments that select game MVPs and award athletic gear, or booster clubs that wish to reward members of state championship teams with rings. A similar proposal to raise the retail value of awards to $300 per event was voted down by the Board of Control.
Dolan said the current $20 value limit for awards in West Virginia is “significantly less’’ than surrounding states.