The Illinois High School Association announced Wednesday changes to the classification system for non-boundaried high schools that have consistent success within their current class of competition.
The changes will boost non-boundaried schools up to three classes above their enrollment classification for sustained winning during the state series in football and up one class for continuous success in all other sports.
The changes result from an IHSA committee's attempt to create fair competition between boundaried schools, such as most public high schools, and non-boundaried schools, such as private schools.
Illinois high schools are classified according to their enrollment so that similarly sized schools compete against each other during state tournaments. Non-boundaried schools have a multiplier that elevates their classification above their base enrollment. Co-ed schools have a 1.67 multiplier: For every three students, the IHSA counts five. Under this system, a private school with 300 students would be classified together with public schools with 500 students. Single-sex non-boundaried schools have a multiplier of 2, meaning a private school with 600 students would be treated as a public school with 1,200.
Even with the adjusted classifications, some private schools have thrived in their classes, while others have failed to advance in state series events. Montini Catholic High School in Lombard has appeared in five straight Class 5A football title games, and Mount Carmel has won a state title in each of the state's two largest classes, 7A and 8A, the last two seasons. Other private schools have not shared such success.
The new system announced Wednesday by the IHSA would adjust each school's classification to reflect athletic success. Non-boundaried schools can accrue up to two points per sport each year for winning regional and sectional championships. Any team that records at least four points in a four-year span cannot have its enrollment amplifier waived and must continue to compete in its adjusted enrollment class.
The point system will not apply for football, in which a first-round playoff win prohibits the amplifier waver.
Furthermore, the IHSA annouced the following changes for classification of non-boundaried schools:
Over four years, football teams will move up a classification if they achieve the following:
1. Participated in two state championship games.
2. Starting with the 2015 season, schools would be moved up two classes from their enrollment classification if, over a four year period, the school participated in three championship games.
3. Starting with the 2016 season, schools would be moved up three classes from their enrollment classification if, over a four year period, the school participated in four championship games.
4. Schools that move up more than one class due to the implementation of the above criteria will move down one class per year until they reach their appropriate classification for their enrollment should they stop meeting the advancement criteria outlined above.
Other sports that compete in bracketed state tournaments, such as baseball, softball, basketball and volleyball, will move up a class if they reach the state final four twice in a four-year span. The same will apply for non-bracketed sports, such as cross country and golf, which earn two state final trophies in four years.
The changes apply only to non-bonudaried schools. Most public high schools would not be affected by sustained success in a sport.