While Columbia Academy recently announced that it will remain in Division I for the next Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association classification cycle, the remaining seven Midstate Division I private schools aren’t quite ready to announce their plans.
“We’re going to take our time, peel back all of the layers and just see where we stand,” CPA athletic director Mike Ellson said.
“We’re still trying to weigh everything,” added Nashville Christian athletic director and football coach Jeff Brothers said. “We’re all on these fact-finding missions right now.”
CPA, Clarksville Academy, Goodpasture, Grace Christian, Lipscomb Academy, Middle Tennessee Christian and Nashville Christian likely won’t make a final decision until sometime after the TSSAA’s special called meeting on Wednesday, when the association’s 12-member Board of Control will vote on a number of key classification issues.
In addition to deciding whether to continue using an enrollment multiplier for private schools that remain in Division I, the Board will also vote to determine which system the TSSAA will adopt for the 2018-22 cycle.
“I guess we’re waiting to see what comes out of the meeting in terms of the number of classes (in Division II),” said TSSAA Board member and Lipscomb athletic director Mike Roller. “I think that’ll be important information, and I hope that it will be helpful for some of us.”
Division II, which is comprised of schools that offer need-based financial aid, consists of two classes based on enrollment size — A and AA — but there is a possibility of a third class being added during Wednesday’s meeting.
“I think we are leaning toward Division II, but we definitely have not made a 100 percent decision,” Grace Christian athletic director and baseball coach Len McKnatt said. “We want to go and hear what they’re thinking — what Division II would look like — and sometime after that meeting, when we’ve had a chance to soak all that in, we’ll make a decision.
“Of course we don’t have a ton of time.”
Division I private schools have until Oct. 14 to decide whether they will move to Division II for the next classification period.
While the TSSAA Legislative Council voted down a complete public-private split last summer, it later approved five changes to the association’s bylaws, one of which states that any public or private school that has a “financial assistance program” (i.e. student loans or student employment) must compete in Division II.
“The way we’re leaning is that eventually the TSSAA is going to legislate us all out (of Division I),” Brothers said. “Do we want to do it now or do we want to wait until they make it absolutely impossible? It’s darn near impossible now, but it’s just possible enough if anyone wants to stay.”
Other items on Wednesday’s meeting agenda include:
- The board will decide whether it wants the TSSAA staff to set district/region alignments. If so, this process will be done at the board meeting in November.
- The board will decide whether it will require the TSSAA staff to continue re-evaluating member schools’ enrollment figures after the first two years of the four-year cycle.
TSSAA classification timeline
Wednesday: A Board of Control special-called meeting will be held where the board will be asked to vote on a classification plan.
First week of September: TSSAA will ask for member schools’ enrollments as of the 20th day of school.
Sept. 16: Deadline for enrollment information to be sent to TSSAA.
Last week of September: TSSAA will post member school enrollments on its website.
First week of October: Letter sent to all schools giving them an opportunity to move to Division II.
Oct. 14: Deadline for schools to move to Division II.
Oct. 17: Divide schools into Division I and Division II. Apply multiplier, if used, to Division I private schools. Divide schools into the number of classes approved in both Division I and Division II.
Oct. 18: Send letter to all schools giving them an opportunity to move up in classification.
November: Set districts and regions for next four years at next Board meeting or state office staff sets districts and regions for next four years and posts on website prior to Board meeting.
Nov. 17: Board of Control meeting.