Prep playoff system to change in 2016-17 school year |

Prep playoff system to change in 2016-17 school year

Jon Mitchell

High school sports teams in Colorado will have a simplified playoff system to follow in the 2016-17 school year thanks to a change announced by the Colorado High School Activities Association earlier this week.

The change, which was announced by CHSAA on its website,, will unify all playoff qualification standards for all interscholastic sports in the state. CHSAA is adopting the RPI system (Ratings Percentage Index), which has been in use in Division I college basketball to help determine its annual NCAA tournament field.

The move comes following outcry in social media and beyond concerning fairness in seeding and postseason placement this past season. Separate sports have used separate postseason qualification formulas and will continue to do so through the end of the 2016 spring sports season.

“We think it’s fair, we think it’s going to fit in all sports,” said Eddie Hartnett, the president of CHSAA’s board of directors, in the article on CHSAA’s site. “We do think, as a board, that other states will look at us as ground-breaking. It’s transparent and consistent.”

The move becomes especially relevant to football and baseball, which both used a wild-card points system to determine its postseason qualifiers. That system, in part, placed an emphasis on a school’s classification as a way of determining a team’s postseason eligibility and/or status, awarding more points for beating, or simply playing, teams from bigger schools.

The system drew criticism this past baseball season at the Class 4A level when Palisade, which entered the 4A state playoffs with a 16-3 overall record, did not receive a top-eight seed in the 32-team playoff bracket. Durango, however, was given a No. 7 seed and hosted a regional tournament after a 6-13 regular season. The wildcard system factored in its schedule in the hybrid Southwestern League, which includes 5A teams like Grand Junction, Fruita Monument and Grand Junction Central.

When the RPI system goes into place, it will no longer account for a team’s classification level. Instead, RPI takes into account a team’s winning percentage, the winning percentage of their opponent, and the winning percentage of their opponents’ opponents.

That wildcard point system made a difference last season for area football teams Glenwood Springs and Rifle. Because of the all-around strength of schedule in the 3A WSL, the league qualified five teams for the 2014 3A state playoffs (Glenwood, Rifle, Eagle Valley, Delta and Palisade). Rifle eventually advanced to the 3A state title game, falling against Pueblo East, 30-14, at Dutch Clark Stadium in Pueblo.

Fall sports under way in Colorado

Where did the summer go?

After a nearly three-month long hiatus from high school sports, most prep athletes around Colorado will officially begin practice for their respective fall sports on Aug. 17.

That’s for team sports including football, volleyball, boys soccer and boys and girls cross country.

Boys golf officially began practices on Monday. The first boys golf meet of the year is scheduled for Thursday, when Rifle and Coal Ridge send their teams to Cedaredge to play in the season-opening Bruin Invitational tournament at Cedaredge Golf Club.

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