Published Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 10:36 pm / Updated at 10:33 pm
Pospisil: Classifying teams by success affects public schools, too
Exploring LB 1081
In applying the provisions of LB 1081 to high school football, volleyball and basketball in Nebraska dating to 2000, these are the schools that would have been bumped up in class by their four-year success cycle (x-non-public school):

Public schools: 6. Two-year cycles: 8.
Non-public schools: 5. Two-year cycles: 8.

Class B
Aurora 2012-13
Elkhorn (14-15)
McCook (06-07)

Class C-1
x-Wahoo Neumann 04-05
Boone Central (06-07)
x-Norfolk Catholic 08-09, 12-13, 14-15

Class C-2
x-David City Aquinas 12-13, 14-15
x-Hastings St. Cecilia (12-13)
Lawrence-Nelson (04-05)

Eight Man-1
Howells 04-05, 10-11, 12-13

Eight Man-2
x-Lindsay Holy Family (06-07)

Note: Parentheses indicate that the bump-up would have fallen during the middle of a scheduling cycle; shown is the next applicable cycle.

Public schools: 7. Years: 18.
Non-public schools: 7. Years: 30.

Class B
Aurora 2001-02
Elkhorn 2006
x-Lincoln Pius X 2008-09-10-11-12
Grand Island Northwest 2011-12-13-14
x-Omaha Gross 2011

Class C-1
x-Columbus Scotus 2000-01-02-03-04-05-06-07-09-10-11-12-13-14
x-Grand Island Central Catholic 2009-10-11-12-13
x-Kearney Catholic 2013-14

Class C-2
x-West Point Central Catholic 2005-06

Class D-1
Exeter-Milligan 2013
x-Humphrey St. Francis 2008
Republican Valley 2001-02-03-04

Class D-2
Hampton 2004
Paxton 2005-06-07-08-09

Public schools: 7. Years: 24.
Non-public schools: 3. Years: 6.

Class B
Seward 2012-13-14
South Sioux City 2000-01-02-03-04-05-06-07

Class C-1
Sandy Creek 2000-01-02-03-13-14

Class C-2
Crofton 2008-09-10
x-West Point CC 2005-06-07-09

Class D-1
Bancroft-Rosalie 2010
x-Humphrey SF 2008

Class D-2
Ewing 2010
x-Falls City Sacred Heart 2004
Wynot 2014-15

Public schools: 3. Years: 4.
Non-public schools: 3 Years: 4.

Class B
South Sioux City 2014

Class C-1
x-Hastings SC 2011-12

Class C-2
x-Fremont Bergan 2012
x-West Point CC 2002
Ravenna 2012-13

Class D-1
Spencer-Naper 2005

Let's give State Sen. Russ Karpisek what he wants.

A conversation starter.

Karpisek's LB 1081 seeks to factor state tournament success into the NSAA classification system. But in our analysis of the bill, results suggest it will affect public high schools as much as private and parochial schools. That works against Karpisek's argument that it's not a level playing field between the two.

The legislator from Wilber wants the Nebraska School Activities Association to use a point system for team sports that would give schools one point each for winning a district title, a state tournament game, a state semifinal and a state championship game, a maximum of four points per season. Schools that accumulate 12 points or more over a four-year period would be reclassified into the next largest class for two years.

Beginning with 2000, our study of football, volleyball and girls and boys basketball shows that LB 1081 would have impacted 23 public-school teams for 54 current scheduling cycles (one year for all sports but football, which is two years) and 18 from private schools for 48 such cycles. For every Columbus Scotus in volleyball there's a Howells in football.

What's surprising to me is that the least impact would have been in boys basketball — three public and three private teams for totals of four years apiece. Volleyball would have had the most bump-ups, seven public teams for 18 years and seven private teams for 30 years.

A major flaw in LB 1081 is that the bump-up years would come after the athletes responsible for it had graduated. One superstar player or one strong senior class can be all the difference in a four-year cycle.

Consider Alliance when it had Jordan Hooper in girls basketball. The Bulldogs would have amassed 11 points while she was playing. If they had gotten to 12, Hooper would have been in a Nebraska uniform and Alliance would have been in a Class A district with a team that went 3-19 the following season.

Or Exeter-Milligan in football. Say the reigning Eight Man-1 state champion, which has been in back-to-back title games, had gotten to 12 (it had nine). Its enrollment has dropped to where it's the ninth-smallest school next year in Eight Man-2, but LB 1081 would dictate it play 11-man ball.

The perception of an uneven playing field between public and non-public high school teams has a long history in the state. In 1924, it was first proposed to include only public schools in the state association. Another strong push to ban non-public schools came through the NSAA in 1948.

More recently, an effort in 2002 led by the East Central Nebraska Conference to multiply non-public school enrollments by 1.35 generated much discussion in the Omaha area's NSAA district legislative meeting but didn't advance to statewide consideration. It would have bumped up 15 non-public schools into a higher class, including three of the state's strongest programs — Lincoln Pius X, Columbus Scotus and Falls City Sacred Heart.

Three years later, the focus shifted to allowing schools to subtract a percentage of their students who are in special education, free and reduced lunch programs and English Language Learning programs. The rationale was that it would level the playing field between public schools as well as between public and private schools. It got only to the second round of voting.

Will Karpisek's bill start, or re-start, the conversation within the NSAA membership? Because its introduction came a week after the NSAA held the last of its January district meetings, schools didn't have the chance to chew on its provisions while gathered together.

It's risky to wade into this issue, but there's an idea I'd like to see explored: bumping up non-public schools that draw from the same student pools — and club programs — in the state's largest cities.

If you applied this to the top 10 cities for population:

Lincoln Pius X, Omaha Skutt, Omaha Gross and Omaha Roncalli would be in A rather than B.

Columbus Scotus, Omaha Concordia, Lincoln Lutheran, Lincoln Christian, Kearney Catholic, Norfolk Catholic and Grand Island Central Catholic would be in B rather than C-1.

Omaha Brownell-Talbot, Norfolk Lutheran, Hastings St. Cecilia and Fremont Bergan would go from C-2 to C-1.

North Platte St. Patrick's, Omaha Christian and Grand Island Heartland would rise from D-1 to C-2.

And Lincoln's College View and Parkview would be in D-1 rather than D-2.

There is another definite conversation starter in Karpisek's bill, one that has been overlooked — a 180-school-day, not 90-day, sit-out from varsity competition for students who transfer under open-enrollment rules after the May 1 deadline.

Long overdue, this might quell some of the rampant movement of athletes — especially seniors — if it would cost them an entire school year. The 90-day rule really impacts only fall-sport athletes. Winter-sport athletes miss a month of contests and there's no penalty when it comes to spring sports.

Omaha Westside Athletic Director Tom Kerkman had a similar proposal that didn't make it out of the District II meeting in November. This part of Karpisek's bill merits strong consideration from the NSAA membership.

Contact the writer: Stu Pospisil    |   402-444-1041    |  

Stu Pospisil has been The World-Herald's lead writer for high school sports since 1990 and for golf since 1988. He primarily covers football in the fall, basketball and wrestling in the winter and track and field in the spring.

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