LINCOLN — Nebraska School Activities Association members should be the ones deciding whether to reclassify high school sports powerhouses, a top association official said Friday.
Executive Director Rhonda Blanford-Green said the association is not advocating for or against legislation that would move up schools that are perennially strong in varsity sports.
State Sen. Russ Karpisek of Wilber, who introduced Legislative Bill 1081, has said he did so primarily out of concern about the disproportionate share of state championships won by private and parochial schools.
He said that private and parochial schools are able to recruit players and, more important, to control their student numbers.
Blanford-Green said the NSAA “understands there are concerns out there about parity and equity and championship success.”
But she said she hopes the association's 309 member schools can discuss and deal with those issues through its own policy-making process, rather than having a policy mandated in state law.
The NSAA currently classifies schools by enrollment. Member schools have debated in the past about weighting each private or parochial school student higher than a public school student when calculating enrollment, Blanford-Green said. The idea was not adopted.
Karpisek initially looked at using the weighting approaches. But he decided that counting all private and parochial enrollment in a manner different from public school enrollment would unfairly penalize schools without powerhouse teams.
Instead, he modeled his bill after a new Indiana rule.
LB 1081 applies to both public and private schools. It would give schools one point each for winning a district title, a state tournament game, a semifinal game and a state championship.
Schools that accumulate 12 or more points over a four-year period would be reclassified into the next largest class.
Classification would be done on a sport-by-sport basis.
Although the bill does not make it clear, Karpisek said his intent is to use the system for team sports, not wrestling, track or others in which students can qualify for state tournaments on an individual basis.