Six-man football is coming back to South Dakota.
During its regular meeting Thursday in Pierre, the SDHSAA Board of Directors voted 6-1 in favor of a proposal to add a six-man football classification beginning in 2019. It was the second reading of the measure, which passed its first reading, 5-2, in April.
The new six-man classification will replace Class 9B and will be open to any schools with a male-only average daily membership (ADM) of 40 and lower. The remaining nine-man teams will be divided equally into two classifications. None of the cutoffs for the other classifications are expected to change and the SDHSAA does not plan to allow six-man co-ops except in extreme circumstances.
The ADM threshold was the primary topic of discussion ahead of the vote. Avon superintendent and football coach Tom Culver expressed concern with possibly leaving the door open for schools to take advantage of the six-man classification. He suggested a school could have 30 kids come out for football, but opt to enlist at the six-man classification for 2-4 years if it better suited their personnel.
Culver, who also pointed out the narrow gap between the six-man cutoff (40) and max for 9B (56), argued they should have a firm number of six-man teams before setting the classification’s framework.
“I’m in favor of (six-man), I think it’s good for the teams that need it,” Culver said. “But it should (only) be an option when you get to the point that you just can’t play nine-man. It’s not, ‘Which one better suits my team right now?’”