Now that the new classification cycle process is officially underway, (Our story on the WIAA classification process here), we’re going to take the first look at where the numbers are for each classification. The numbers are the first look and do not include the schools opting up or schools that may appeal. In the last cycle a total of 45 schools opted up with the most in 3A with 15 schools, 14 in 4A and 12 in 1A with 22 of the 45 schools being private schools. In the last cycle there were also about 30 schools who appealed their classification with just 10 winning their appeals. 

Take this into account of where the numbers are now you could see still quite a bit of movement with many opt ups still to be determined and an expected 25-35 schools appealing their classification. So the number break down we have for you below is based solely on the final round of student count released earlier this week. Schools have until December 22nd to inform the WIAA of their desire to opt up and is also the deadline to file their intent to appeal. 

January 5th is the deadline for schools to have their appeal paperwork submitted to the WIAA. The District Directors will then hear the appeals on January 18 and 19. The Executive Board will finalize and approve classification numbers on January 21. The board retains the option to further change the classification ranges for balance. They have already dropped the 4A from a 1,300 minimum to a 1,200 minimum. The Board will wait to see how the final numbers look to determine if any more adjusting is needed to further balance the classifications.

Current School counts per Classification:

4A Range 1,200+
The first round of the 4A count has helped increase the number of 4A schools from this last year of the cycle of 51 to 56 teams again not counting the 14 opt ups from the last cycle. There are several schools that opted up last year now in the 4A range but with the goal of 55-65 schools per classification it appears the adjustment the Executive Board made from 1,300 minimum to 1,200 minimum is going to fix the issue with 4A.

3A Range 900-1,199
This was the classification the WIAA wanted to reduce to get away from those 20 team tournaments. With the drop in the 4A minimum number the first count of 3A schools is 63. Again they had 15 opt-ups last cycle, but some have moved above the 900 mark and the final 3A number could still be moved if they have the majority of those 15 schools wanting to opt up. This is a wait and see outcome but it would not surprise us if further changes to the range would be needed to drop the number of 3A schools either moving more up to 4A or some down to 2A.

2A Range 450-899
Currently there are 71 schools in the 2A. But many of the opt ups to 3A come from this student range. 15 schools opted up in the last cycle to 3A from the 2A level. That would drop 2A to 56 but push 3A to 78 so if a similar situation occurs look for the range to shifted by the Executive Board to balance out the classifications.

1A Range 225-449
Right now 1A has a total of 51 schools in the range. In the last cycle 12 schools opted up to 1A. If the numbers hold that would put 1A about perfect at 63 schools. They also picked up 2 schools who won their appeals to drop from 2A to 1A and lost one down to 2B which would make the classification 64 teams. It doesn’t appear the 1A’s have much to be concerned with at this point. By the way all 12 schools that opted up were private schools so that 12 number appears to be pretty solid.

2B Range 105-224
The 2B’s check in with 64 schools in the range with just 1 opt up from the last cycle. They did gain one from an appeal but the 2B’s look pretty solid and right in that mid-60’s sweet spot. The 2B classification doesn’t look like much will get changed from the last 4-years.

1B Range 1-104
The 1B classification has 102 schools. That clearly is the most but several factors bring that number down. First there are 22 schools with less than 30 students which means most of the sports they offer are individual such as cross country, golf etc. Secondly, many of those smaller schools combine with other schools for either all their sports or just a few selected sports and may play in the 2B classification as well. In the end there is no way to mitigate the 1B’s as they are the low end of the count and no other level to drop too. So in a few sports they will likely keep the 20 team formats.

To wrap this up there is still a lot of information the WIAA is gathering from the schools from the opt-ups to the appeals and then how many appeals will be granted. From the numbers the biggest issue looks to be between 4A, 3A and 2A. What will the Executive Board do if 3A is still overloaded or how will they balance it? It is a question they can’t even answer at this time until all the information is finalized. However, this process will not go on forever as January 21 is the date the Board is set to finalize the classifications for the next 4-years. Then schools, league and districts can then begin figuring out their plans with leagues and schedules.


By paulb

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