Two of the top Division II-AA football programs in Tennessee — Brentwood Academy and Ensworth, which have combined to win five of the past six state championships in that class — will consider remaining in that class beginning in 2017, despite a third, bigger class being created by the TSSAA on Wednesday.
Both schools currently have enrollments that would put them in the smaller DII-A, and both opt to play up a class to DII-AA, which features the traditional DII powerhouses. Under the new plan voted on Wednesday, DII-AA would not be the largest class.
Brentwood Academy athletics director and football coach Cody White, who led the Eagles to last year’s state title, was not happy with the TSSAA board of control’s decision to set the enrollment of DII’s highest classification at 531 and higher.
“I think the best thing for our school is to really contemplate the possibility of playing where our (enrollment) is,” White said. “The TSSAA has hamstrung us and made things absolutely ridiculous. …
“I know they made the decision with the thought of us and Ensworth moving up. But if you look at it from a school perspective — the travel, the budget, the scheduling — why wouldn’t you consider it?”
Ensworth athletics director and football coach Ricky Bowers said he would prefer to play in Division II’s largest class. But the decision doesn’t rest solely with him.
“If it were up to me personally, we’d be playing up, but we’re going to do what’s best for our school,” Bowers said.
In Brentwood Academy’s case, the decision will be left up to Headmaster Curt Masters with input from White and the school’s Board of Trustees.
In 2008, when Ensworth was faced with the decision of playing up a class, Bowers said, it was left up to a vote by school’s student body.
“We may do that again,” he said.
The Division II committee, made up of representatives from 11 Division II schools across the state, recommended to the TSSAA on Monday that a third class be added. However, its recommendation stated that the classes be divided evenly. That proposal, though, failed after a split 6-6 vote by the board of control.
“The Division II committee worked very hard to make recommendations that reflected the will of the membership, and the reason they recommended three evenly split classes was that it provided competitive parity, as well as take into account geography,” said Jim McIntyre, Father Ryan headmaster and Division II committee chairman.
Instead, the board voted 7-5 in favor of a proposal to divides the three classes based on a predetermined enrollment size. Class A will be for schools with enrollments up to 230. Class AA will include schools with 231-530 students. And schools with an enrollment of 531 or more will be placed in Class AAA.