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GHSA Punts on Reclassification

The executive committee will meet again in May on plans for new alignment.

High school athletic directors will have to wait a bit longer to learn whether the Georgia High School Association will adopt a proposal  that would radically alter interscholastic competition in the state.

The GHSA's 50-member Executive Committee decided Monday in Macon to table any decision on reclassification until a called meeting in May.

The committee was scheduled to vote Monday on what has been called the 4/8 plan, which would reduce the number of classifications from five to four during the regular season, then split the four into an upper and lower tier for the playoffs, thus producing eight classifications.

The 4/8 plan was the one recommended by a 7-5 vote of the GHSA's Reclassification Committee after a combative meeting Sunday. Supporters say it allows teams to play opponents closer to home, thus reducing the time and expense of traveling long distances.

Wesleyan School Head Master Zach Young said, "The one that passed Sunday is fine with us. It seems to be the leader since it's the one recommended by the Reclassification Committee.

Duluth Athletic Director Bill Navas said he, too, leans toward the 4/8 plan, although he acknowledged that no plan will resolve all the issues or satisfy everyone.

"The biggest thing it will do is alleviate the travel issue," Navas said. "It's a good option to put teams in a competitive situation. It's not really a big deal for Duluth, because we're going to be in the upper classification either way. So, we haven't spent a lot of time worrying about it."

But opponents of the 4/8 plan, like Peachtree Ridge Athletic Director Bill Holleman, say it would be the least fair of the three plans that have been proposed.

"I don't think that's what interscholastic athletic competition is all about or what the association had in mind," Holleman said. "I think you'll see more discussion of what is called the Dave Hunter plan."

Hunter is the former athletic director at Brookwood High School. His plan calls for increasing the number of classifications from five to six. Norcross Athletic Director Kirk Barton agrees with Holleman.

"(The 4/8 plan) leaves a lot of questions," Barton said in a telephone interview Monday. "As I understand it, our region would have eight teams while some others would have only two, which means those two schools would be automatic qualifiers. They could go 0-10 and make the playoffs, while a team that goes 6-4 might be eliminated. That takes away from the spirit of competition."

At the May meeting, the Executive Committee can adopt the 4/8 plan, the Hunter plan or decide to continue the current five-classification system with some minor modifications.

There was one other important development that came out of the Sunday meeting, which saw a renewal of an old debate between public and private schools in the state's smallest classification.

Lincoln County head football coach Larry Campbell argued that private schools should be forced to move up one classification if they enroll students from outside their service area. Otherwise, he said, public and private schools aren't competing on a level playing field.

The committee agreed to form an ad hoc committee to study the issue. The committee would be composed of four representatives from public schools, four from private schools, four state legislators and four members from the Reclassification Committee. That committee will meet in April.

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