After 11 town meetings this spring and an extensive survey of various factions of the Indiana High School Athletic Association membership, it appears the multi-class basketball tournament is firmly in place.
IHSAA commissioner Bobby Cox said the results of the survey, which was unveiled Friday, show there “is a lack of compelling evidence” to alter the current four-class structure that has been in place since 1997-98.
State senator Mike Delph, Carmel-R, who had pushed for a return to the single-class format as part of a comprehensive education bill, had a family commitment Friday evening and would not immediately comment. Delph agreed to remove the call for a single-class tournament in January and take the discussion on the road with Cox.
For six weeks, beginning in early April, they traveled throughout the state as the general public was allowed to voice its opinion on the tournament format. The votes were solidly in favor of the single-class tournament (68.1 percent), but only 514 voted, perhaps a sign that the class basketball debate had lost steam since it was installed 15 years ago.
“As great as a single-class tournament sounds, it’s a different era now,” said Southport athletic director Pete Hubert, who voted in favor of the current system. “I went to (now 2A) Eastern Hancock (1976 graduate) and wouldn’t trade our experience in the single-class tournament for anything. But a lot of the factors that were in place then have changed.”
The athletic directors were most strongly in favor of the multi-class tournament, with 79.3 percent (291 of 367) favoring it over a single-class format. In a bit of a surprise, the principals were 76.8 percent (232 of 302) in favor, down from 89.4 percent in 2006. Boys and girls basketball players were also surveyed, with 72.2 percent (1,628 of 4,315) in favor of the current format.
In June, Senate President Pro Tempore David Long, R-Fort Wayne, indicated the high school basketball tournament format is unlikely to be pursued by the legislature.
“(Educators) should be afforded the continued opportunity to serve the young people of our state with the sincerity and enthusiasm they deserve void of government intervention and pressure,” Cox said in the press release.
Any hope for change is likely in the hands of the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association. The coaches voted slightly in favor of multi-class (55.0 percent, 343 of 624), but many have expressed interest in a compromise or hybrid tournament that would incorporate elements of both formats.
IBCA president Steve Witty said the organization is in the early stages of surveying its members to see if there is enough support to put together a formal proposal.