The line between Class 4A and Class 3A has always been source of reclassification contention in Wyoming high school athletics.
The Cheyenne South variable won't make solving that equation any easier when the Wyoming High School Activities Association Board of Directors meets today in Casper for the first of its quarterly meetings.
"That would probably be the most discussed item at our meeting, I think," WHSAA Commissioner Ron Laird said with slight hint of irony in his voice.
The Reclassification Committee's proposal from last year would use Cheyenne South's two-year "average daily membership" -- the state's official enrollment calculation for individual schools -- to determine the new high school's classification for the upcoming 2011-13 academic years.
With the WHSAA having firmer projected numbers for the next two years, Cheyenne South has proposed an amendment to the original reclassification proposal, asking again to be classified by its year-to-year numbers rather than the two-year average.
The two-year average places South as the ninth-largest school in the state. If the year-to-year numbers are used, South would be the 13th largest school for the 2011-12 academic year and then the seventh largest in 2012-13.
After district-level WHSAA meetings, there isn't a clear indication of what the schools want, either. Both the committee's proposal and South's amendment passed two of the four districts, and the committee's proposal was approved by the WHSAA board by a 9-8 vote in April.
"It looks like we're right back split on what to do with that," Laird said.
What the board decides will hinge on two proposals and Cheyenne South's amendment:
The reclassification committee's proposal: It's fairly simple, if the board approves the proposal to use the two-year average numbers to classify the state's newest high school. South would be 4A in all sports, except for football in 2011-12. That proposal narrowly passed its first reading, and if it passes a second vote, it would pull Riverton to 4A football for the first year of the cycle.
But Riverton's future -- or fate, depending on your point of view -- could potentially hinge on its own proposal.
Riverton's adjustment proposal: Riverton submitted a proposal to lower its two-year average by 10 percent, based on its own historical analysis of attendance numbers, Laird said. That would place the Wolverines in 3A for everything for both years of the cycle. Green River would bump one slot and play 4A football next year and then drop down in year two. A Riverton adjustment would also keep Star Valley in 4A for all sports other than football.
South's amendment to the reclassification committee's proposal: It's also fairly straightforward. Now that the WHSAA has new enrollment numbers, South is asking again to be classified on a year-to-year basis. That would put South in 3A for all sports the first year -- Star Valley would stay in 4A -- and then the two would flip-flop for the second year of the cycle. Green River would again play 4A football for the first year of the cycle and then drop to 3A for the second year.
"There's a lot of different implications depending on which [proposal] passes," Laird said.
The key difference between the reclassification committee's proposal and South's amendment would be the football futures of Green River and Riverton. Simply put, if the committee's proposal passes -- which would likely doom South's amendment -- Riverton will play 4A football for one year (2011-12) unless its enrollment adjustment proposal moves on for a second vote.
Then Green River could potentially play 4A football for the first year before moving down to 3A.
Laird said when the board discussed the lines last year, it was with the belief that Green River would remain the 11th largest school in the state. But Riverton came in ahead of Green River.
Green River activities director Tom Wilson has indicated at past board meetings that Green River wants to remain in 4A football. Laird clarified that Green River's main concern is remaining in the same classification for all sports.
"And with these [numbers], it's not going to happen," Laird said.
A football-only proposal was submitted to each WHSAA district that would keep Cheyenne South and Riverton in 3A football for both years and Green River in 4A. But it was defeated, Laird said, after the districts realized that the ability to opt up or down already exists in the WHSAA bylaws.
Which begs the question: Will Green River decided to opt up in football if it will be placed in 3A?
Laird said he had not heard any indications of that scenario, but a request by Green River to opt up would be difficult for the board to pass.
"The thing with football that makes it tough, if someone opts up, we don't take the [lowest] team and drop them down," Laird said. "Unless someone opted down to where we could say, OK, it's going to balance it -- and I don't see that happening -- that would make 11 [teams] in 4A and 11 in 3A.
"And that would create a lot of issues, scheduling-wise. It just wouldn't work. I can't speak for the board, but that would be one ... the board has to always approve if someone requests to opt up or opt down.
"I'm not sure they would be able to approve that."
If a team opts down in a sport, it is ineligible for postseason play. asked if the board could consider adjusting the football lines -- say 12 teams in 4A -- Laird said it wasn't a possibility at this point.
"That could be in the next cycle's proposals possibly," Laird said. "But at this point, it's too late for that to happen."