Changes coming to the way MSHSAA determines classifications

By Chris Parker (

Big changes are coming to the way MSHSAA decides classifications for team sports starting with the 2020-21 school year.

Two ballot proposals passed that will change the way classifications are decided for team sports and how private, non-public schools are classified.

Here are the full text of each ballot initiative:

PROPOSAL 9 – (Sport and Activity Classification) – (PASSED) – 376 FOR, 51 AGAINST
Amends By-Law 5.1, District and State Tournament Procedures, to restructure the procedures for sport and activity classification for districts and the state series.

PROPOSAL 10 – (Competitive Equity between Public and Non-Public Schools) – (PASSED) – 294 FOR, 133 AGAINST
Amends By-Law 5.1.5, Co-Ed Enrollments, by removing the 1.35 enrollment multiplier that is currently in place for non-public and charter schools, and replaces it with New By-Law 5.1.7, Championship Factor, which re-classifies non-public and charter schools based on a point system connected to advancement in districts and the state series over a six-year period.

Proposal 9 will work to make the enrollment spread between the smallest and largest school in each class above Class 1 no more than double.

“The underlying rationale is trying to get schools of closer enrollment to each other participating in each class,” MSHSAA Communications Director Jason West said. “What will happen is, based on the number of registrations there are for a particular sport, a percentage of the smallest registered enrollments will be Class 1. For the remaining classifications it will be based on a 2.0 ratio, which means the largest school in that class will be no more than double the size of the smallest school in that class. If the smallest school in that class is 400 enrollment then the largest school in that class won’t be over 800.”

The number of Class 1 schools will be determined by the number of total registrations within that sport while trying to maintain an equitable spread of teams in each class.

“One of the secondary things we will be looking at is still trying to maintain some sort of balance as far as the numbers inside each classifications; making sure Class 6 doesn’t have 50 schools and Class 5 has 32,” West said.

This will likely mean an extra class for several of the team sports.

“That is going to be the big takeaway that some sports might have more classes than they currently do, but also within those classes you aren’t going to have a school of 1,300 competing against a school of 585,” West said.

Proposal 10 will change how non-public schools are classified. Right now a non-public school’s raw enrollment number is multiplied by 1.35, and the resulting number is used to place the school into a classification.

The new way passed in Proposal 10 gets rid of the multiplier, and is replaced by a point system based off postseason success over a six-year period. Schools with one gender will still have their enrollment number doubled.

Each non-public school will now be placed in a classification based off their raw enrollment. Then the point system based off success will determine whether a non-public school stays in the same class or moves up one or multiple classes. This point system will be determined this fall by the MSHSAA Board of Directors.

“It (the point system) should be decided by the fall (of 2019). That will be discussed at the September board meeting once we have been able to pull how everyone has done in the last six years. We will then show that to the board and they will have the final determination of the point value of each step; winning districts is worth (a certain amount of) points, being a quarterfinalist is worth (a certain amount of) points and winning a state championship is worth (a certain amount of) points. They will also determine the threshold of (moving up) one class or two classes,” West said. “It will be based on six years of data. It will go into effect Day 1; starting with the fall sports of 2020 we will have collected how the teams have finished for the past six years and already have the information to be ready to assign. It will be based on the raw enrollment. The only adjustments that will be made for unisex schools. Those that are single sex will still be doubled and that number will be used as their raw enrollment to determine where their starting base is.”

One sport’s success will not affect another sport. So it would be possible for a boys and girls basketball team from the same school to end up in different classes. If a non-public school moves up a class it won’t mean another school moves down. It would just make one class one school bigger and another one school smaller.

“We (MSHSAA) are hoping that this may be more of a compromise for the non-public schools, and that they are not just automatically bumped up a class because they are a non-public school. But if they do have success then they may be moved to a different class,” West said. “Each year that number is going to be looked at because you bring in another year to the six years and drop off another one. If (a school) has three years of success, eventually those three years are going to be dropped off their point total and another three years will be added. Once (a school) goes up, the next year they may go back down. It is not going necessarily have long term effects on two or three classes as it might with the multiplier.”

– These proposals go into effect after the coming school year starting with 2020-21.
– The 1.35 multiplier for non-public schools is going away to be replaced by a success point system. That points system is yet to be determined.
– The success point system will only apply to non-public private and charter schools. Public schools are not judged by the success point system at all.

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