The Alabama High School Athletic Association has gone 30 years with its present classification system.
That may change today with vote from the organization’s Central Board of Control.
The board will convene at 10 a.m. today to vote on several proposals for changing or keeping the current six-classification system, possibly adding a seventh class that will divide the larger high schools in the state and the smaller 6A programs, which have complained for years about their inability to compete with the bigger programs at a championship level.
“If I were a betting man, I’d bet we were going to wind up with seven classifications,” said T.R. Miller athletic director and head football coach Jamie Riggs, a member of the board. “There are so many issues when dealing with other (non-football) sports. But we’ve talked about this for a long time. Maybe it’s time we gave these people a shot, the people at the bottom of Class 6A.”
AHSAA staff members were not permitted to discuss the proposals, director of communication Ron Ingram said. But Ingram did note that 30 years under the current classification system is the longest in the history of the organization.
The AHSAA began in 1921 with a one-class system before adding a second classification in 1947, separating the largest schools from the rest. In 1964, the organization went to a four-classification system that featured regional play, switching to the current six-class system with area play in 1984.
The only major change since then was a modification after the 1999 season that employed the old regional system, adding more guaranteed games for the larger schools.
The board includes five coaches, a pair of athletic directors, five school administrators and two school system administrators as well as a state board of education administrator. In recent years, high school athletic associations throughout the Southeast have grappled with the same prominent issues Alabama’s members will face this morning: the growing number of schools and the growing number of private schools.
While the Louisiana High School Athletic Association this week will face the battle of select (public) and non-select (private) schools and whether to divide them into separate classifications, the AHSAA isn’t expected to deal with that issue in today’s meeting.
But the growing number of high schools has created a disparity between the larger and smaller Class 6A programs that existed almost from the creation of the six-classification system.
In the 1990s, the three largest schools — Robert E. Lee, Jeff Davis and Central-Tuscaloosa — all were dominant in that decade’s Class 6A championship battles.
Since 2000, the issue has only grown worse in football, as only teams from the dozen largest schools have fought annually for the Class 6A state title.