MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

January 16, 2014

OSSAA tables full split of 6A

By Mike Kays
Phoenix Wire Reports

— A proposal to divide Class 6A into two championship divisions in every sport was tabled on Wednesday by the state’s governing body of high school athletics.

Dick Balenseifen, athletic director of Putnam City schools, presented his plan to the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association’s board of directors at their January meeting.

The board voted 10-0 to table action until February for further study, less than a year after member schools voted last April to divide the state’s largest high schools into two divisions for deciding football title, starting with the 2014 season.

Balenseifen is heading a movement to split 6A into two 16-team divisions in all sports. He wants the board to put the issue out for a vote of the 32 schools, noting that 18 – a majority – already are in favor, including Muskogee. He also pointed out that Jenks and Union have accounted for the last 18 football titles in the class, and schools from the upper half of the class have accounted for 87 percent of all state titles in the OSSAA’s 21 sanctioned championship activities in a 16-year span.

The change in football was made to reduce the discrepancy between the largest and smallest schools in the classification.

Balenseifen said Claremore competing against Broken Arrow is similar to Blackwell, a Class 4A football school with an ADM of 400.9, being forced to compete against 6A Muskogee (1499.5), or Prague (296.7), the smallest 3A football school, having to compete against 5A Lawton MacArthur (1109.1).

“If any class had the largest schools winning almost 90 percent of the championship from top to bottom, I would be one of the first people on the bandwagon to say we have a problem that needs to be addressed,” he said.

The largest 16 high schools will compete in a new 6A Division I and the next 15 will compete in 6A Division II. U.S. Grant will play an independent schedule in football over the next two years.

Balenseifen said Claremore competing against Broken Arrow is similar to Blackwell, a Class 4A football school with an ADM of 400.9, being forced to compete against 6A Muskogee (1499.5); or, Prague (296.7), the smallest 3A football school, having to compete against 5A Lawton MacArthur (1109.1).

“It’s hard for me to put those schools in that situation and call it a fair and level playing field,” he said.

Board member’s reactions ranged from concern that other classes would request a split to whether the dividing line should go higher than 16 and 16.