Published Monday, May 11, 2009 | 2:38 p.m.
Updated Tuesday, May 12, 2009 | 8:57 a.m.
NIAA Division I
Sunrise Mountain (opens in fall 2009)
Rite of Passage
Explore Knowledge Academy
Lake Mead Christian Academy
High schools sports could have a different look next fall.
The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association on Monday released a proposed three-division realignment, which, if approved by the association’s board of control during its June meeting, could be implemented in three months for the start of the fall season.
The realignment, which is being proposed for every sport except football, is far from final, said Donnie Nelson, the association’s assistant director. There are currently four classifications.
“We are taking one step at a time,” Nelson said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen. We are waiting for some public feedback.”
The proposal also includes reducing the number of games for each sport. Association Executive Director Eddie Bonine said the plan was developed with the state’s poor economic climate in mind.
“The current status of our state economy seems to be dismal at best and no doubt will have a direct effect on educational budgets, which in turn directly affects our athletic and activities budget,” Bonine said in a statement.
The NIAA Division I would be the large-school classification and include 30 teams — 10 in the Sunrise, Sunset and Northern regions. Those schools, led by the likes of Las Vegas High in the Sunrise and traditional powers Bishop Gorman and Palo Verde in the Sunset, are the teams that typically are at the top of the standings annually in each sport.
The NIAA Division II combines the four teams in the current 3A Southern League — Boulder City, Faith Lutheran, Moapa Valley and Virgin Valley — with current 4A schools like Basic, Chaparral and Del Sol that have smaller enrollments and have struggled in certain sports.
Boulder City Athletic Director Regina Quintero said she has mixed feelings about the proposal. Her biggest complaint is with its timing. Like other administrators, she already has started filling next year’s schedule.
“I would like to see us have a year before we go ahead with the change,” she said. “I will try to talk with someone at the NIAA and give my opinion, but I don’t know how much weight that will have. I think people will be better prepared if we have a year to prepare.”
Heads of programs at other schools are not happy about playing in the lower division.
Canyon Springs’ boys basketball team won the Sunrise Region title in 2006 and lost to Reno’s Galena High by six points in the state title game. It is consistently one of the large-school classification’s top teams.
“You have to be kidding me,” Canyon Springs coach Daryl Branham said upon hearing of the proposal. “I don’t understand why they are putting us in with all of the smaller schools. We are basically playing a 3A schedule.”
Branham said he will be a vocal opponent of the change.
The Pioneers return seven players from last year’s team that reached the playoffs and Branham believes his team has a chance of making a deep playoff run. He has non-league games scheduled against Palo Verde, Cheyenne and Silverado — some of the town’s top teams — and plans to have a good showing in each.
“We are going to be as competitive as anyone in town, regardless of classification,” the coach said.
The NIAA Division III is comprised of schools in the current 1A and 2A classifications.
Realignment was not scheduled to be addressed until 2012, but the state’s economic state made the changes urgent, Bonine said.
“The NIAA worked diligently to propose reductions and reorganization of classification, to address travel, loss of instructional time, rivalries, and competitiveness,” Bonine said.
The proposal, however, would limit the most significant rivalries in Henderson.
Games pitting Basic against neighboring Foothill and longtime foe Green Valley are always the most-anticipated. The proposal would leave the schools in different divisions and force them to play less meaningful non-league games against each other at the beginning of the season.
“The first thing that comes to mind for Basic is our rivalries,” said Teresa Gallegos, Basic’s girls basketball coach. “The athletes here prepare all season and wait all season for those games.”
Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected].