By MIKE COURSON
Great Bend Post
Fair competition is a crucial factor in the difference between success and failure at the high school level. With the dominance of some private schools - including Bishop Miege's 22 girls' basketball titles since forming a team 46 years ago - the Kansas State High School Activities Association decided to act.
Last week, KSHSAA reported its new "multiplier" rule that would inflate enrollment for classification purposes, has passed the first round of voting by member schools.
"My thought was that it's pretty reasonable," said Ellinwood High School basketball coach Derek Joiner. "They clearly weren't going after private schools just to go after private schools. They were trying to take into consideration how dominant they were. They were also taking into consideration if they were coming from bigger communities where they would have a better opportunity to pluck some of the better families and better kids out of those communities."
Even with a passing vote from KSHSAA member schools, the rule must still be approved by both the Kansas Board of Education and the state legislature before changes take effect.
The rule change would impact only those private schools that have excelled in team activities. Under the "championship factor," if a school wins five to nine team state championships in a five-year period, the enrollment would be multiplied by 0.15. The multiplier grows to 0.30 for schools with 10 or more championships in a five-year period.
If a school meets the championship factor, other considerations also come into play, including the size of the community in which the school is located, and socio-economic factors based on the free and reduced-lunch rate at the school.
The multiplier can only force a school up a single classification, and it will not force a 6 or 8-man football team to change to 11-man.
Member schools were mailed ballots on May 6 with a June 14 deadline. Unreturned ballots were counted as "no" votes. Class 6A, which would receive no benefit from the new measure, received only six "yes" votes (16.7 percent), and Class 5A also failed to reach a majority with 47 percent of "yes" votes. The rule change is popular in the smaller classes, with 83 percent of 4A schools voting "yes," and 72 percent of 3A schools voting "yes." In all, there were 216 "yes" votes (61 percent) compared to 139 "no" votes.
"I think it was an issue that schools were more interested in, from 4A down," Joiner said. "In the basketball world, if you look at 4A, 3A, 2A, and sometimes 1A, you see a lot of private schools in those state tournaments in a lot of different sports."
Great Bend, as a Class 5A school, has been impacted by the likes of Bishop Carroll, Kapaun Mt. Carmel, and St. Thomas Aquinas. Bishop Carroll has won eight state softball titles since 2001. Private schools have won five of the last seven Class 5A boys' track titles, and seven of the last 11 5A girls' track titles. Wichita Collegiate, Wichita Independent, Sacred Heart, and Kansas City Christian, in some variation, swept the Class 3-2-1A and 4A girls' tennis titles from 2016 to 2020. Collegiate has won 13-straight girls' tennis titles.
Other schools, like Salina's Sacred Heart, will see some teams impacting others. The boys' golf squad there has won the last seven Class 2A titles to qualify all teams at the school for the multiplier.
"If those guys keep winning the golf championship every year, that's going to start having a negative effect on their basketball and football teams," Joiner said.