When the Arizona Interscholastic Association realigned the state’s schools from the region-conference format of past years into divisions and sections, officials allowed schools to appeal their placement.
Those appeals are in and will be heard today, Nov. 2, by the AIA’s Advisory Committee.
The committee and the AIA Executive Board have the authority to deny or approve each school’s appeal.
It appears that most appeals were submitted by parochial schools.
Among those filing are Notre Dame Prep, St. Mary’s, Salpointe Catholic, Valley Christian, Seton Catholic, Pusch Ridge Christian, Gilbert Christian and Scottsdale Christian.
Only two public high schools appealed to move up a division — Tuba City in volleyball and Santa Rita in baseball and football.
While it might seem odd the parochial schools would want to play in a larger and more competitive division than they were placed by the AIA, there are underlying reasons.
Most of the church-affiliated schools have smaller student bodies than their big city public school brethren, but draw more quality athletes because they have no attendance boundaries.
Consider, there are some student-athletes who might live in a public school district where the school they must attend does not have a good program in their chosen sport.
So rather than attend that school and participate in a mediocre program and on a non-winning team, the athlete opts to attend a parochial school where the program is much more competitive.
Of course, religious affiliation also draws some fine student-athletes to parochial schools.
Phoenix St. Mary’s, which has an enrollment of 602, is almost 200 students smaller than Payson High, but now is a member of the 5A I conference.
As small as the school is, St. Mary’s has historically competed on even terms with big city schools like Red Mountain (3,442), Brophy (2,532), Alhambra (2,690) and Chandler (3,334).
The other parochial schools that appealed up also have relatively small student bodies, but are now aligned in big school conferences.
So, it doesn’t make much sense for a school like St. Mary’s to drop down a division and play the likes of Show Low, Payson, Round Valley and Snowflake.
It’s a credit to the parochial school administrators that they want their athletes to compete in a big school division rather than move down a couple of notches to play where the competition, in some sports, might not be as tough.
The AIA Executive Board meets Nov. 15 to approve or deny appeals. The final division placement will be announced the following day.
Then the process begins all over again when placement of schools in sections from their respective divisions kicks off.
Sectional placements will be announced Dec. 7, after appeals are heard.
The division-section placements will begin for team sports in 2011 and be valid for a two-year block.
The AIA-mandated alignment for cross country began in September, when the former conference classification was replaced with divisions that were then subdivided into sections.
In cross country, Payson was placed in Division III along with 46 other teams, some of which are former 4A schools.
From Division III, Payson was aligned in the 17-team Section II.
Payson’s placement in other sports might be similar to what occurred in cross country.
Realignment is supposed to save schools money.