CHSAA rulings to bring changes to local high school sports |

CHSAA rulings to bring changes to local high school sports

Jon Mitchell


A brief glance at some of the changes in high school sports that were approved, and not approved, at the Colorado High school Activities Association’s Legislative Council meeting on Thursday:

• CHSAA’s Classification and League Organizing Committee approved the realignment of each of the state’s classifications to divide classes 5A through 1A with an equal number of teams. It also changed the enrollment-number criteria to ensure that would happen.

• A proposal to install a pitch-count system in high school baseball was approved despite strong opposition from members of the hybrid Class 5A/4A Southwestern League, which moved to strike the proposal all together. Instead, CHSAA agreed to implement the rule in time for the 2016 baseball season as opposed to this season, which was initially intended.

• Each of the proposed amendments to CHSAA’s transfer rule went unapproved, leaving the association’s current rule in tact. The current rule requires any transfer to sit for the first half of a team’s games before they can attain varsity eligibility. The proposal that was shot down would have prevented any student transferring for athletically motivated purposes to be ineligible for varsity competition for a full calendar year.

• CHSAA approved a move that prohibits teams playing down a level from reaching the postseason. For example, teams from a Class 4A school playing at the Class 3A level could not have their season extend past the regular season. However, teams already playing down a level will have postseason eligibility.

Source: Colorado High School Activities Association

The new classification standards for Colorado approved on Thursday in Aurora aren’t of a huge concern to some athletic administrators in Garfield County.

“Well, there’s always going to be someone in the bottom quarter of the classification,” said Glenwood Springs High School Athletic Director Craig Denney as he left the Colorado High School Activities Association’s Legislative Council meeting Thursday afternoon. “To me, I’ve never really worried about numbers.”

That bottom quarter is where the football teams from Glenwood Springs and Rifle high schools will wind up thanks to the measures that were approved during the annual meeting. It was one of several measures that went up for approval during the meeting that took place at the Raddison Denver Southeast.

The move, which placed a near-equal amount of teams in each of Colorado’s five classifications — six for football, also switched the enrollment numbers for each class. For most team sports, for example, Class 3A will have 42 schools with enrollments between 249 and 626, just a slight difference between the current numbers of 241 to 600 for 3A. In 4A, numbers will change from 601-1,410 to 627-1,356. No schools from Garfield County will be affected by the change in enrollment numbers.

Numbers for football — which has different enrollment standards based on the number of players needed for each team — differ greatly. Class 3A — the classification in which Rifle and Glenwood play — will move from 600-1,049 students to 730-1,249. Class 2A — where Roaring Fork and Coal Ridge play football — will move from 301-599 to 340-799. Grand Valley, the county’s lone 1A school for football, will see enrollment numbers change from 136-300 to 136-339.

Roaring Fork, however, moved back to Class 2A in football from 1A this past season because its enrollment barely crested the 300-student mark. That leaves the possibility that the Rams could move back into the 1A Western Slope League with Grand Valley. Glenwood Springs and Rifle, with enrollments of 797 and 730, would be near the bottom of the enrollment cutoff number.

Denney wasn’t concerned about that.

“When we won the state title in 2008, we were beating teams then that had 500 more students than we did,” he said.

The Classification and League Organizing Committee, which came up with the enrollment figures, also factored in a 5 percent window for a possible drop or increase in enrollment, according to CHSAA’s website,

With that, it leaves the possibility of Rifle dropping down a classification in football, going from being the smallest school at the 3A level to the biggest school in Class 2A. The Bears, by the way, have played in two of the past three Class 3A state championship games.

All enrollment figures will go into effect at the beginning of CHSAA’s next two-year enrollment cycle, which starts in time for the 2016-17 academic year.

Also approved by the committee was a limitation on teams playing down a classification in order to regain success within a program. CHSAA’s legislative council approved a proposal that prohibits teams playing down a classification from reaching the postseason.

Teams that already are playing down a classification, such as Rifle High’s boys and girls soccer teams (4A to 3A), Grand Junction Central’s football team (4A to 3A), Montezuma Cortez’s football team (3A to 2A) and Battle Mountain’s football team (3A to 2A) will still be eligible for postseason play until the new enrollment cycle begins in the fall of 2016. It was welcome news Wednesday to Rifle football coach Damon Wells. His team in 2013 suffered a first-round playoff loss to Coronado of Colorado Springs, a 4A team playing at the 3A level that went on to win the state football championship that year.

Rifle Athletic Director Troy Phillips confirmed that the Western Slope League made the proposal to CHSAA to keep play-down teams from playing in the playoffs.

“I’m not opposed to teams playing down to have success,” Wells said. “What I’m opposed to is when those teams have success at the expense of smaller schools.”

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