The South Carolina High School League released its preliminary realignment plan for the 2020-2022 school years to its members Thursday.
The league reclassifies schools every two years based on enrollment numbers. As a result, schools will move up and down in classification. That is the case again this time for several area schools.
According to an SCHSL release, several new factors were used in this year’s process:
o Used the 45 ADM enrollment count of the current school year;
o Only includes grades 9-11 in the enrollment count;
o Used a plus or minus (+/-) four (4) schools to address geography and travel.
“The goals of the process was to reduce the number of schools in the AAAAA Classification (currently 48); increase the number of schools in the A Classification (currently 38); and create a balanced number of schools in the remaining classifications (AA, AAA, AAAA). Throughout the process, geography and travel were major considerations,” according to the SCHSL release.
The stated goal of reducing the size of the 5A classification results in area teams of that size placed in regions that include five teams (seen below), as opposed to eight-team regions under the plan currently in use.
The SCHSL notes that to address the considerations listed above, the following concepts were used:
o The top 40 schools (by enrollment) were placed in the AAAAA Classification;
o The next 40 schools (by enrollment) were placed in AAAA Classification;
o The remaining three classifications (A, AA, AAA) were more challenging; therefore, the concept of plus or minus (+/-) four (4) schools was employed. This created the opportunity for schools to be assigned to more geographically friendly regions among the classifications;
o In an effort to maximize the number of schools with football teams in each region, some schools are participating in a different region (same classification) for football only.
An appeals process for schools begins in late January and appeals can potentially be heard on several levels of the SCHSL structure.
Once the appeals process is complete, each classification will meet to conclude how to determine playoff participants.
“The top four teams in each region in 5A will probably qualify for the playoffs,” said Dorman athletic director Flynn Harrell. Harrell suspects that the other classifications will have different plans due to different sizes of regions.
Of note in the new 5A plan, Riverside will remain in Region Two with Byrnes, Dorman, and Spartanburg with Wade Hampton joining that group.
While the Warriors and Generals are competitive in various sports, their football teams have struggled since moving up to the 5A level.
Riverside’s last win came in its opening game of 2017. Wade Hampton has one victory over the past two seasons.
Conversely, obligated to play just four region games in football (and one against the other), it gives more flexibility for non-region scheduling than the previous eight team region set-up allowed.
“Regions need to be based on enrollment,” said Riverside Athletic Director Michael Pettit. “I plan to propose that to the High School League. I don’t get why we’re putting schools together for geography, when there isn’t a wide gap, instead of enrollment.”
Also notable in 5A is that B. Springs and Gaffney are area schools that will be part of a Region 3 that includes three other members based in York County.
The last reclassification in 2018 led to a lawsuit filed by a group of 3A schools against the league and the Union County school district over the placement of Union County High School on that level instead of in 4A (their enrollment numbers then complied with the larger classification) that was later settled.
The result helped lead to the creation of a Guidelines Committee, which assisted in the aforementioned new parameters.
In the enrollment rankings, based on 45-day attendance numbers, there could potentially be a maximum of 88 teams in the 5A and 4A classifications.
Union County is now listed as the 91st largest in the state, thus making it one of the biggest 3A schools. The Yellow Jackets are again assigned to Region 3-3A in the proposed plan.
Proposed SCHSL Reclassification Plan for 2020-2022 (Pending Appeals Process)/Area Schools Impacted:
Greenville Tech (no football)
BMC (no football)
GMC (no football)
Legion Collegiate (football only)
Calhoun Falls Charter
High Point Academy (no football)
SCSDB (no football)