How do we fix the NDHSAA "Class" problem?

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How do we fix the NDHSAA "Class" problem?

Postby nodak » Thu Jan 21, 2010 11:34 pm

There has been a lot of discussion in the Class "B" boys thread regarding VC and NDHSAA's classification ruling. It's gotten pretty ugly in there (and I'm just as much to blame as anyone). I figure that rather then sit and complain, this would be a good place to offer up your ideas. What would you like to see for classes...a three class system? Two classes with an enrollment cap for class "A of 325 (or 400)? What about a totally new idea...something outside the box! Post them here...let's see what we can come up with.

My only request is that people don't trash the schools involved (we've done enough of that already).
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Re: How do we fix the NDHSAA "Class" problem?

Postby nodak » Thu Jan 21, 2010 11:53 pm

I guess I'll throw my idea out. It's kind of outside the box, but bear with me. The one goal that I have for this whole thing is to make Class A better, while preserving the sanctity that is the state "B". To do this, I don't believe that the state can have three classes, as there just aren't enough schools to make a 3rd class meaningful. I think that some things can be done to give these "on the fence" schools a chance to be competitive at the higher level...but it might not be totally "equitable". However, I think good programs can overcome the enrollment discrepancies and do well at the class "A" level. All this being said, here is my proposal.

A - Make the top 32 schools (by enrollment) Class "A". This was done in the past in the old North Star Conference, and I think it needs to be done again. The AA and AAA schools will comprise this upper class.
B - Divide this class into four eight team regions by geography. This way each team plays 14 region games, leaving six non-conference games (the big's can schedule other bigs, the middle teams can schedule class "b" teams or other middle teams). With future growth (Davies, BHS splitting, WF splitting), the classes can be adjusted.
C - Play regional tournaments at the end of the year. Allow the top FOUR teams at the regional tournament to advance to a 16 team State tournament (first round at higher seed, final eight at a neutral site). This allows more teams to participate at state, thus giving more spots to smaller schools. If more chances for small schools (and craziness!) are desired, allow the 5th place team to challenge the 4th place team for the spot if they did not meet in the regional tournament (this used to be done in class "b" districts a lot...and I LOVE the idea!).
D- Keep the Class "B" division at the 33rd largest school and smaller. This will allow the smaller schools to have a better chance at making the "B". There is one caveat I would require here: the NDHSAA would then conduct a review of EVERY co-op. These schools would have to demonstrate a need to combine (low numbers) in order to continue to co-op. The argument has always been that the small schools needed to co-op to compete with the big "B" schools. That argument would no longer be valid, and more parity would result.

I think that this would help make everyone happy. The class "A" bigs would potentially get more access to state. The middle schools would have a chance to get four or more teams into the state "A" tournament. The class "B" schools left would get keep their tournament preserved, and the emphasis on the small schools would be put back into play.

Love it or hate it, I'd appreciate your feedback! I just figured I would get the ball rolling...
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Re: How do we fix the NDHSAA "Class" problem?

Postby Bisonguy06 » Fri Jan 22, 2010 12:55 am

I reject your premise that there ever was a problem in North Dakota high school basketball.

Class A basketball is fine. No complaints. The smaller class A schools (Wahpeton, Shanley, Devils Lake, Williston, Belcourt, Dickinson) have all been very competitive. They're not perennial sacrificial lambs. Valley City has not been competitive, but they are very similar in size to Wahpeton, who has competed very well until this year, where they are down on the boys side. But heck, Fargo South had a down year, every program does. There are no excuses for Valley City.

Class B basketball is fine. No complaints. Smaller class B schools (Parshall, Turtle Lake-Mercer, North Sargent, Dakota Prairie, Kidder County, Mott-Regent, Berthold, North Star, Beach, ect... ect...) have all been very competitive in recent years. I have gone on at length in other threads about how many small schools are advancing through regionals to state in class B.

We didn't have a problem a year ago when the NDHSAA moved the cutoff from 325 to 400, and we don't have a problem now. If the NDHSAA decides that there is no turning back and they keep the line at 400, I can live with that. I'd prefer to see the line at 325 where it belongs and where it stayed when Beulah and Grafton were on the enrollment bubble.

And sorry Nodak, your goals are fine, but I don't think schools 21-32 in your plan can win a state title over the big boys.

We don't need radical change. Move the line back to 325 and keep everything else the way it is now.

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Last edited by Bisonguy06 on Fri Jan 22, 2010 1:12 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: How do we fix the NDHSAA "Class" problem?

Postby nodak » Fri Jan 22, 2010 1:00 am

Bisonguy06 wrote:I reject your premise that there ever was a problem in North Dakota high school basketball.

Class A basketball is fine. No complaints. The smaller class A schools (Wahpeton, Shanley, Devils Lake, Williston, Belcourt, Dickinson) have all been very competitive. They're not perennial sacrificial lambs. Valley City has not been competitive, but they are very similar in size to Wahpeton, who has competed very well. No excuses.

Class B basketball is fine. No complaints. Smaller class B schools (Parshall, Turtle Lake-Mercer, North Sargent, Dakota Prairie, ect...) have all been very competitive in recent years. I have gone on at length in other threads about how many small schools are advancing through regionals to state in class B.

We didn't have a problem a year ago when the NDHSAA moved the cutoff from 325 to 400, and we don't have a problem now. If the NDHSAA decides that there is no turning back and they keep the line at 400, I can live with that. I'd prefer to see the line at 325 where it belongs and where it stayed when Beulah and Grafton were on the enrollment bubble. But we don't need radical change!

If there ain't a problem, don't fix it!


Hey Bisonguy, I agree with A LOT of what you said! No change last year would have been the best course of action for the NDHSAA. I wouldn't say that there weren't problems, but I think we can all agree that the alignment prior to this year was acceptable for the majority.

I was looking beyond the Valley City issue on this, and was trying to find a way to keep class "B" great, while making class "A" more appealing to a statewide audience. I know it was radical, and probably doesn't have a chance of ever happening. I just want to see ND basketball be exciting from top to bottom.
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Re: How do we fix the NDHSAA "Class" problem?

Postby Bisonguy06 » Fri Jan 22, 2010 1:06 am

Me, too. I would add a shot clock and redistrict, for starters. I'm not against all change. Those ideas belong in other threads. We're just talking about school classification here, and I say keep it the way it is.

A lot of brilliant minds waste a ton of time trying to draw up new, brilliant, perfect plans for ND high school athletics. Well, there are no perfect plans, and what we have now is working just fine. Leave it alone and spend your valuable time and energy on other problems!
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Re: How do we fix the NDHSAA "Class" problem?

Postby nodak » Fri Jan 22, 2010 1:15 am

Bisonguy06 wrote:A lot of brilliant minds waste a ton of time trying to draw up new, brilliant, perfect plans for ND high school athletics. Well, there are no perfect plans, and what we have now is working just fine. Leave it alone and spend your valuable time and energy on other problems!


We might have to agree to disagree on this. Just because something is acceptable doesn't mean it can't improve. I think class "B" as it is works well...but there is ZERO excitement for the class "A" state tournament (check the crowds to figure this out). I'm not suggesting changing class "B" so much as I am suggesting improving class "A". I think the state "B" tournament is a great institution in North Dakota, and I wouldn't want to diminish it in any way.

I agree with your suggestions for game play in class "B" whole-heartedly.
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Re: How do we fix the NDHSAA "Class" problem?

Postby Bisonguy06 » Fri Jan 22, 2010 1:30 am

I agree that the excitement level for class A isn't the same, I just don't see how your solution fixes that problem. You're adding 10-15 schools to their class that are not dominating 'B' and would be only marginally competitive in 'A' in a good year.

I'd say you've identified a problem but not a solution.
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Re: How do we fix the NDHSAA "Class" problem?

Postby nodak » Fri Jan 22, 2010 11:59 am

Bisonguy06 wrote:I agree that the excitement level for class A isn't the same, I just don't see how your solution fixes that problem. You're adding 10-15 schools to their class that are not dominating 'B' and would be only marginally competitive in 'A' in a good year.

I'd say you've identified a problem but not a solution.


Ah...but herein lies the rub! It's not the NDHSAA's responsibility to help schools build strong athletic programs! That responsibility lies with the school...the NDHSAA is in the business of administrating athletic and fine arts competition amongst high schools in ND. You say there's no problem...but enough people are talking (and have been talking before the VC move) about change that maybe the whole process needs to be looked at. I was merely trying to be proactive with my idea.
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Re: How do we fix the NDHSAA "Class" problem?

Postby Bisonguy06 » Fri Jan 22, 2010 6:22 pm

A school of size 200, no matter how strong their program is, would never win the state A championship in your new plan.
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Re: How do we fix the NDHSAA "Class" problem?

Postby NDFan09 » Fri Jan 22, 2010 7:12 pm

By the same logic that a school of 200 (or about 10% of the largest school) could "never" win the State A, you could also argue that a school of 40 could never win the State B. There are currently around 8 teams in the state with a high school enrollment in the 40's that have their own bball teams. Not really arguing for any proposed change, just wanted to point out that there will always be someone on the short end of the stick.
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Re: How do we fix the NDHSAA "Class" problem?

Postby Bisonguy06 » Sat Jan 23, 2010 3:45 pm

The old plan with the line at 325 had a ratio in class A of just over 5:1 between the largest school and the smallest, with Minot just around 2000 and Valley City just under 400. The ratio in class B was also just over 5:1 between the largest (Grafton and Central Cass at 275) and several schools at or under 50 students. There was balance among schools in both classes.

Your new plan has a 10:1 biggest-to-smallest ratio in the top class and a 4:1 ratio in the bottom class. You've lost that balance.

This alternate plan basically creates a phony middle class that leads to a dead end at the state tournament. It hurts the mid-sized schools and caters to the very smallest schools in our state.

I can rattle off several schools in the 60-70 enrollment range who have had lots of success recently in the 'B.' What we have now is better than what you are proposing.
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Re: How do we fix the NDHSAA "Class" problem?

Postby scruffy » Tue Jan 26, 2010 1:07 pm

I don't think change is needed because within ten years or so small high schools with under 60 kids enrolled will be closed. The first step has been taken now that the state is funding more of the cost per pupil. It will be easier for the state to cut off funding then it would for the local school districts to have to make that decision.
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Re: How do we fix the NDHSAA "Class" problem?

Postby old#63 » Tue Jan 26, 2010 5:34 pm

The solution doesn't lie in restructuring the classes, the solution lies in restructuring schools. There is no reason that once a school drops below 50 or so kids in high school that it shouldn't be looking hard at consolidating with someone nearby. More than likely it would join in with a school that had 100+ kids. That would take the enrollment to 150+. 150 can compete with 400. 50 can't. We have far too many school districts in the state. Economically, it makes no sense.
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Re: How do we fix the NDHSAA "Class" problem?

Postby ndlionsfan » Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:24 pm

I don't buy into that one bit. The purpose of a school is to educate kids and those smaller schools can still do that economically and test scores prove that a lot are doing it better than the large schools. It would be completely stupid to force schools to consolidate to make sports divisions competitive.
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Re: How do we fix the NDHSAA "Class" problem?

Postby Mighty-Mouse » Wed Jan 27, 2010 4:27 pm

As I'm reading this, I can't but help think how many co-op's are in the top 10 this past week. So I looked and see there are 3 co-ops and 3 Catholic/Lutheran schools in the top 10, Bishop Ryan, Dickinson trinity, Berthold (Lewis & Clark now), North Star, Oak Grove and Turtle Lake-Mercer/McClusky.

I see the co-ops are coming the super "B" teams. I've counted and see there are about 58 co-ops in ND and you and I talk alot about most of them, Four Winds, Kidder Co, North Border, just to name a few. Out of the 8 teams in the state playoff last year, 6 were co-ops, North Sargent, North Star, Turtle Lake-Mercer, Bowman Co, Dakota Prairie, and Berthold. I say this is the problem with class "B". It's the co-ops. You can merge enough to stay under the threshold of "B" student numbers.

I know I will get bashed for this but I've looked at the numbers of co-ops and the numbers of the little schools. The little schools have no chance to compete with the co-ops in class "B" and their numbers. Look at the past few years and see how many co-ops have won. Parshall won in 2007, Linton won 2009 (but we won't go there), but from there you have to go back to 1999-Leeds for a small class "B" to win. If we want to save the class "B", I say stop the co-ops.

2008 Grafton
2007 Parshall
2006 Dickinson Trinity
2005 New Rockford/Sheyenne
2004 Dickinson Trinity
2003 May-Port CG
2002 May-Port CG
2001 North Border
2000 Fargo Oak Grove
1999 Leeds
1998 Standing Rock Community Grant, Fort Yates
1997 Mayville-Portland CG
1996 Mayville-Portland CG
1995 Carrington
1994 Minot Bishop Ryan
1993 Central Valley (Buxton)
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Re: How do we fix the NDHSAA "Class" problem?

Postby ndlionsfan » Wed Jan 27, 2010 5:10 pm

Now, you have the word co-op and consolidation mixed up. Co-op is two or more separate schools forming one team. A consolidation is two or more towns forming one school. Northstar is not a co-op, just a single school that is made up of the towns Bisbee, Egeland, and Cando. Berthold is not a co-op either, their school district merged with another school district to for the Lewis and Clark, but it is still a single town with a school. Four Winds, Kidder Co, North Sargent, Dakota Praire, MPCG, NRS, Central Valley, and Bowman Co are all consolidations. TLM was a single school until this year when McClusky co-oped with them. The only co-op you actually listed was North Border, which is two schools (Walhalla and Neche/Pembina). All of these teams that I listed are also "small" teams, you can check the enrollment figures. The only "big" would be MPCG.

By the way, I played for Leeds back in those days and we had about 80 in HS. Northstar, North Sargent, CV, TLM are all at that or smaller right now so consolidation doesn't mean huge numbers to choose from. DP, NRS, Kidder Co, FW, and Berthold are all slightly larger with around 120 in HS.
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Re: How do we fix the NDHSAA "Class" problem?

Postby old#63 » Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:20 pm

ndlionsfan,

I agree that consolidation for sports alone is unreasonable. I am talking about consolidating the schools with under 50 or so in high school because it makes sense acedemically and financially. "Fixing" the NDHSAA class problem is a secondary benefit.

Here's my point. As fast as enrollments are dropping in most small towns, if a school only has 50 in high school, there are probably only 30 or so left in grade school. That means 4 or 5 kids per class. In my opinion that does not produce a good learning enviroment. Just as competition produces better athletes, competition produces better acedemics. 4 kids per class doesn't produce competition, it produces complacency.

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Re: How do we fix the NDHSAA "Class" problem?

Postby ndlionsfan » Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:41 pm

I can see when these schools get down in the single digits per class it might be time to start looking at consolidating. But due to many factors, it might not always be the best for the students to do so. (distance, poor relations with neighboring schools, getting swallowed up by a large neighboring school, etc.) My hometown school has been at about 50 in HS for the past 3 years but now is seeing a slight increase in the elementary grades so the population has leveled off and begun to stabilize. I think you'll see a lot of other schools this size leveling off as well, but you will also seem some like you mentioned with still lower enrollments in elementary where the future does not look good for keeping their school without consolidation. But again, tiny Wolford has had about 50 kids total in their K-12 school for the last 10 years or more and they are still holding on.
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Re: How do we fix the NDHSAA "Class" problem?

Postby old#63 » Wed Jan 27, 2010 8:32 pm

My daughter was in a class of 6. Attended 7th and 8th grade in that small school. Made honorable mention a couple times in the 8 quarters she was there. Mostly B's and C's, but she was at the top of her class and basically said to us that was "good enough". We open enrolled her into high school at a neighboring town where she is in a class of about 60. She has been on the A honor roll every quarter for the last 2 years. Mostly A's and a couple B's. She is now in the top 20% of her class, but she has to work at it to be there. She has lots of friends to pick from, so she doesn't have to hang around with kids who don't have similar values just because they are the only kids around. On the sports side she couldn't make the team cuts, so she doesn't play volleyball or basketball like she used to. But she is in an acro club, she is a cheerleader, and in the drama club instead. She still runs track. In small schools everything revolves around being on the sports team. When you get to bigger schools, there are more choices. "Holding on" isn't always the best way.
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Re: How do we fix the NDHSAA "Class" problem?

Postby Mighty-Mouse » Thu Jan 28, 2010 2:07 pm

Sorry for using the word "co-op" you can call it what ever you want, "consolidation" "merger", all I'm trying to say is, if we want class "B" to be "B" let's have the small towns be small. By consolidating, this brings in a wide area to pick from.
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Re: How do we fix the NDHSAA "Class" problem?

Postby ndlionsfan » Thu Jan 28, 2010 2:18 pm

But a lot of these schools that are in co-ops only have around 50 or fewer kids in high school. If you only have 25 girls or boys how do you field a competitive team. Plus with maybe 10 boys or girls in the entire JH how can you build for the future when there might not even be 5 kids who play to field a team at that level? As for consolidations, the NDHSAA has no say in that at all. That's the local school boards getting together and saying we need to combine schools and getting it ok'd with the state. One school then equals one team no matter how many towns or former schools came together.
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Re: How do we fix the NDHSAA "Class" problem?

Postby mplsfan » Thu Feb 04, 2010 11:00 pm

nodak wrote:I guess I'll throw my idea out. It's kind of outside the box, but bear with me. The one goal that I have for this whole thing is to make Class A better, while preserving the sanctity that is the state "B". To do this, I don't believe that the state can have three classes, as there just aren't enough schools to make a 3rd class meaningful. I think that some things can be done to give these "on the fence" schools a chance to be competitive at the higher level...but it might not be totally "equitable". However, I think good programs can overcome the enrollment discrepancies and do well at the class "A" level. All this being said, here is my proposal.

A - Make the top 32 schools (by enrollment) Class "A". This was done in the past in the old North Star Conference, and I think it needs to be done again. The AA and AAA schools will comprise this upper class.
B - Divide this class into four eight team regions by geography. This way each team plays 14 region games, leaving six non-conference games (the big's can schedule other bigs, the middle teams can schedule class "b" teams or other middle teams). With future growth (Davies, BHS splitting, WF splitting), the classes can be adjusted.
C - Play regional tournaments at the end of the year. Allow the top FOUR teams at the regional tournament to advance to a 16 team State tournament (first round at higher seed, final eight at a neutral site). This allows more teams to participate at state, thus giving more spots to smaller schools. If more chances for small schools (and craziness!) are desired, allow the 5th place team to challenge the 4th place team for the spot if they did not meet in the regional tournament (this used to be done in class "b" districts a lot...and I LOVE the idea!).
D- Keep the Class "B" division at the 33rd largest school and smaller. This will allow the smaller schools to have a better chance at making the "B". There is one caveat I would require here: the NDHSAA would then conduct a review of EVERY co-op. These schools would have to demonstrate a need to combine (low numbers) in order to continue to co-op. The argument has always been that the small schools needed to co-op to compete with the big "B" schools. That argument would no longer be valid, and more parity would result.

I think that this would help make everyone happy. The class "A" bigs would potentially get more access to state. The middle schools would have a chance to get four or more teams into the state "A" tournament. The class "B" schools left would get keep their tournament preserved, and the emphasis on the small schools would be put back into play.

Love it or hate it, I'd appreciate your feedback! I just figured I would get the ball rolling...


Back when the North Star conference existed, schools like Langdon, Rugby, Bottineau etc. were in the 350-400 range. Exactly were VC is sitting currently. Some of these same former NS Conf. schools are now barely above the 200 range. To throw them back to Class A with the big schools wouldn't be any kind of solution as I see it. I don't claim to know what the answer is but I don't think this is it.
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Re: How do we fix the NDHSAA "Class" problem?

Postby Bisonguy06 » Thu Feb 18, 2010 8:41 am

If you’re a reader of preps, you’ve seen this type of stuff from me before. For the rest of you, I’ll recap: I believe that the push for 3 classes of basketball in North Dakota is fueled by a lot of emotion but not a lot of facts.

Last year, I started with the regional quarterfinals and highlighted how well the best small schools are competing with the ‘big’ class B schools that some people would like to see playing in their own class. This year, I’m going to do the same.

We’ve been bombarded with this myth that the largest ‘B’ schools and the private schools are dominating their competition. Well, check this out –Every school in bold is a school that most people would like to see in the middle class. Virtually all of these schools have one more thing in common – they did not win their district tournament.

Valley City is the largest class B school and largest school in their district. They did not win their district. Ellendale did.
Central Cass is next largest, largest in their district. They did not win it. FSHP did.
Grafton did not win their district. FLPR did.
Carrington did not win their district. Harvey did.
Lisbon did not win their district. North Sargent did.
Bottineau did not win their district. Neither did Rugby. Westhope-Newberg did.
Watford City did not win their district. Neither did New Town. Stanley did.
Beulah did not win their district. Hazen did. (Beulah’s bigger).
Des Lacs-Burlington did not win their district. Kenmare did.

Now the private schools: Oak Grove, Trinity, Ryan, Shiloh, and Williston Trinity Christian did not win their districts. None of them took second, either.

And here are some big Bs and privates that didn’t even qualify for the regional tournament: Kindred, New Town, Minot Ryan, Larimore, Lisbon, May-Port CG, Bowman County, Minot Ryan, Shiloh, and Williston Trinity Christian.

Hazen, Standing Rock and Langdon are the only bigger schools that won their district, and Hazen’s not even the largest team in their district. Out of 16 districts, just 3 were won by big schools.

We will see who comes out of each region. I'm sure we will have a mix of big and small with the girls and the boys in their state tournaments. But the bigs aren't just walking through the smalls on their way to state. It has been highly competitive, year after year, in our two class system in North Dakota. We don't need three classes. Before you try to "fix" the system, I'd like to see some evidence that it is broken.

P.S. Steve34 never liked "facts" like these.
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Re: How do we fix the NDHSAA "Class" problem?

Postby scruffy » Thu Feb 25, 2010 4:05 pm

Leave it alone and let nature run her course. Within in ten to twenty years the "small" schools will be gone. Right now each Class "B"" region struggles to present more then four or five decent teams. Watching the scoreboard proves that. Imagine the quality of play in a third class.
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