Selfishness spawns scheduling snafus

Selfishness spawns scheduling snafus


Selfishness spawns scheduling snafus


The low point came almost three hours into the meeting.

After a long and sometimes contentious discussion Tuesday, representatives from the 5A Conference had finally given in and filled a hole in Phoenix Mountain Pointe’s schedule by approving a Mountain Pointe-Chandler Hamilton game for Sept. 27 next season.

Shortly after the decision was finalized, Chandler Unified School District Athletic Director Marcus Williams asked if there was an appeals process. That prompted this incredulous response from Arizona Interscholastic Association Executive Director Harold Slemmer:

“What would be the appeal when you’ve got the No. 1 and No. 2 teams from last year playing in the middle of the season?” Slemmer said.

Good question.

The politics and self-interests that nearly hijacked the scheduling process Tuesday made me long for the day when the AIA’s computer did every team’s schedule. At least the computer is objective. Once human beings become involved, they have a hard time seeing past their agenda.

By and large, the new scheduling model — coaches are allowed to schedule their own freedom games — worked. In every Division I sport except football, coaches were able to fill their open dates. And a large majority of football teams did so as well, with the notable exception of Mountain Pointe. Athletic Director Ian Moses said he called 35 schools in an attempt to fill his four openings; none of the schools wanted to play the Pride.

It was then up to the 5A conference representatives — by the way, shouldn’t that designation be changed to Division I, Division II, etc., as it has been for competition? — to fill out Mountain Pointe’s schedule.

The criterion, as established by the AIA executive board, was clear: Division I teams couldn’t play games against opponents in other divisions until the entire Division I schedule was full. If multiple Division I teams were playing outside their division the week Mountain Pointe had an opening, the school closest geographically to Mountain Pointe would have its game split and be matched up against the Pride.

That’s why Phoenix North, which was scheduled to play Division III Phoenix Sierra Linda the first week of the season, will play Mountain Pointe instead. Then, in Week 2, North had its game with Division III Phoenix South Mountain split because Phoenix Desert Vista needed an opponent.

So, North, which has had one winning season in the past five years, went from two games it might have won to two games it could very well lose by 50 points — or more.

Eventually, the 5A representatives got around to trying to fill the Week 5 game on Mountain Pointe’s schedule. And that’s when things got political. Using the same criterion that changed North’s games, Hamilton’s game with Oro Valley Ironwood Ridge was split, and the Huskies were set to face the Pride.

But Williams and Moses objected, saying the two coaches — Hamilton’s Steve Belles and Mountain Pointe’s Norris Vaughan — didn’t want to play each other in the regular season because they might play again in the postseason.

My reaction: So what? That happens in every division and every sport. Deal with it.

Yet the 5A reps spent the better part of an hour trying to find another way to fill Mountain Pointe’s open date, as if they were reluctant to upset Williams and Moses, and, in extension, the powerful voices of Belles and Vaughan.

Finally, after Slemmer pointed out that the criteria used for North shouldn’t be abandoned for Hamilton, the game was set.

I understand there are flaws in the process. When the AIA handed the scheduling of freedom games over to coaches, it never anticipated that some schools wouldn’t be able to fill their open dates. Thus, the criteria for changing games wasn’t determined until last week. Had the AIA foreseen such a problem, it could have mandated that every Division I schedule had to be filled out before teams could schedule down.

Instead, coaches who had done what the AIA asked and scheduled their freedom games were upset — and understandably so — that their schedule was changed because Mountain Pointe couldn’t find an opponent.

“That’s where the frustration is across the board,” Williams said. “You do your best to match up, the Hamilton-Ironwood Ridge game worked out perfectly, and we’re forced to change it.”

But here’s the thing: No system is perfect. Athletic directors and coaches didn’t like computer scheduling because it created so many mismatches. Coaches and ADs can’t even agree on schedules; you really think Mountain Pointe’s Moses doesn’t want the revenue a home game with Hamilton will produce?

What’s missing is a sense of community, particularly in football. Too many people are so wrapped up in their own pursuit, they’ve lost sight of the bigger picture. Maybe it’s time to give the scheduling process back to the region chairs, who at least tried to work with one another.

It’s too bad. Nearly all of Tuesday’s drama and histrionics could have been avoided if one school — Mountain Pointe — had gotten a few other schools to say yes.

Instead, everybody’s angry.


Reach Bordow at or 602-444-7996. Follow him on Twitter at


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