We know what the Northern 4A schools want.
Now, the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association’s board of control will vote on the future of the state’s big schools as far as athletics.
Representatives from Northern 4A schools spoke at Wednesday’s NIAA meeting at the Silver Legacy. The board members listened and tabled taking a vote on the proposed new 5A classification until the second day of the meeting on Thursday.
When first proposed last December, many Northern 4A schools wanted to move up to the proposed new 5A. The proposal is intended to split up the much bigger Southern Nevada schools into the 4A/5A and have just one such classification in the North.
There is also the potential to have football in one classification, the 4A, with other sports in the 5A.
But Northern 4A commissioner Ron McNutt took a survey last week and most of the Northern schools have had a change of heart.
Bishop Manogue and Reed voted to move into the new 5A. Spanish Springs, Reno and Hug want to be in the 4A in football and the 5A in other sports. The other seven schools voted to remain in the 4A in all sports.
Carson athletic director and football coach Blair Roman said the Northern 4A football coaches voted, 9-2, to play in the 4A.
He said it comes down to competitive balance issues. The north has won five state football titles in the past 20 years and just one since 2008. Bishop Gorman has won the past eight state titles.
Roman said schools in Las Vegas are much larger. The average size in the proposed Southern 4A would be 2,344 students. The Proposed 5A schools in Las Vegas have an average enrollment of 2,782 students.
The largest school in the North, Spanish Springs, has 2,328 students. The Northern 4A average enrollment is 1,595 students. The smallest school in the Northern 4A is Bishop Manogue, with 672 students.
The board is not bound by the North’s preferences and could vote however it sees fit Thursday.
NIAA assistant director Jay Beesemyer, said the NIAA has seen revenue steadily decline over the recent years and that adding a 5A would add another layer of state tournaments games and therefore more expenses. NIAA executive director Bart Thompson said those expenses could be offset by increased ticket sales from more playoff games.
If approved, the realignment would take effect for the 2018-19 school year.
Wooster principle Leah Keuscher said the Colts would be fine with playing in the 4A.
North Valleys athletic director Richard Peraldo spoke to the board about wanting his school to go into the 3A in all sports. He said travel would not be a problem and that his coaches and administration are in favor of the move.
Board members said a move by North Valleys would be considered on an appeal basis, separately from the realignment.
Peraldo said most Northern 3A schools have told him they would accept North Valleys.
“I would like all my athletic programs feel what it feels like to be competitive,” Peraldo said.
He said the North Valleys volleyball program has 13 wins in the past six years and the girls soccer program has six wins in that time.
If approved, North Valleys move would mean 10 schools in the Northern 3A.
Beesemyer also discussed the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas, the venue where most of the state basketball tournament was held in February. For the boys 4A state championship, which immediately followed the girls state championship, about 100 fans or more were turned away as the 2,500-seat arena was at capacity.
Beesemyer said many factors are involved in declining ticket sales, for both the Regional and state tournaments, including games being on TV and streamed on the internet, and having the same two schools, Reno and Manogue, in both the Northern 4A boys and girls championship basketball games.
He added that most of the rural schools had much higher attendance figures at Regional tournaments they hosted.
Thursday’s meeting is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. in the Silver Baron room at the Silver Legacy. The realignment vote would not be until 9 a.m. at the earliest.
Also Wednesday, the board voted to add a week to the 3A football schedule, in order to allow for a Hall of Fame game, which helps pay for the NIAA Hall of Fame banquet. The move would push back the 3A playoffs by a week and put the state championship game on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
The board also discussed adding a wrestler from the Northern 3A to the state tournament. Currently, the South gets five wrestlers in each weight class at state while the North gets three.
Thompson said Agassi Prep in Las Vegas is being taken over by Democracy Prep and will have an all new administration. The board debated moving the charter school to the 3A. The school won the boys 2A state basketball tournament last month and the girls were second.
Thompson also said The Orleans Casino could come back as the site for the state basketball tournament along with some other options in Las Vegas, still being discussed.