MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Prep Sports

December 6, 2012

Proposal to split 6A gets tabled

— There won’t be any immediate changes to divide Class 6A football into two classifications.

The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association’s board of directors decided Wednesday to send the measure back to committee for further study.

The plan, developed by the OSSAA’s Constitution and Rules Review Committee, would divide the state’s top 32 schools into new 16-team classification in an effort to address the disparity in enrollment between the largest and smallest schools in the class.

The board voted 7-6 against sending the measure out the state’s largest high schools for ratification and voted 6-5 on a subsequent motion to send it back to committee for further study.

That was somewhat frustrating to Ed Sheakley, executive director of the OSSAA.

“Our committee met several times where the topic was discussed, we looked a lot of different models like Texas and Arkansas and concerns relating to districts, travel and playoffs. We thought we were pretty much aware of the discussions and concerns,” he said. “But it’s going back to committee.”

Muskogee athletic director Bobby Jefferson isn’t troubled by the wait and thinks there’s not enough awareness on the outside of the committee.

“I think we’re receptive to a change and the time is right to make a change, but as to an exact proposal, I don’t think anyone (who would vote) has had enough information and had time to give sufficient input as to what would be the right way to go,” he said. “There’s still some questions that need to be addressed.”

One question he said, is if it should just pertain to football. Jefferson is also the head wrestling coach.  Another would regard impact of scheduling.

“Every program here faces this same set of circumstances,” he said.  “In wrestling I like competing against Broken Arrow and the other big schools. But I also understand that a change would benefit Muskogee High School. But should it apply outside of football? Every program is in the same boat.

“I think we’ll see change but how we go about it, we all need time to look at how we do it.”

Sheakley had a thought related to that.

“It’s a legitimate question, whether this is a one-time change or whether it opens us up to other activities,” he said. “But football is clearly distinctive in terms of numbers and resources than any other activity.  If I’m playing basketball, I’m suiting up no more than 15. Football, you’re talking 40 or more and what you put into that activity is significantly more. And there’s no other end result that’s as pronounced as football.”

Jenks and Union, two of the top three schools in enrollment, have won every championship since 1995. Union has a current average daily membership of 4,257.14 students, Jenks 3,077.47.

 Eleven of the schools in 6A have half their enrollment. Muskogee is 21st with 1,540.  By comparison, the largest top-to-bottom difference in any classification is 5A with approximately 600 with others in the 200-range.

Josh Blankenship, the Roughers head football coach, isn’t sure what the best option would be.

“There’s a number of formulas and really, none of this was on my radar until we saw that it might be coming to a vote,” he said. “I don’t know which would be right.

“For me it’s a two-sided issue. On one side, there’s the part of me that wishes everyone would quit whining and get better and go compete, but that’s the personality part of me. The other side is that a change might be what’s best for Muskogee High School.”

Sheakley said there is no timetable for revisiting the issue.

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