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Division 1-A trying to find secure place

The Division I-A is going through some growing pains after three years of existence.

The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association had a committee realignment meeting on Feb. 11.

During the meeting the main issue discussed was expansion in the Southern Division I-A and a list of recommendations was made for approval by the board of control.

The committee was formed to save the board meeting time, which could meet in April to finalize these issues.

The conference was established to bring more competitive balance to Division I. Schools like Pahrump Valley were basically tired of being bashed by schools such as Bishop Gorman, especially in football.

In the last year, the conference picked up Del Sol, Spring Valley and Sierra Vista. The Northern teams as well as some Division I schools expressed some concern that the I-A was expanding too much and this could affect the competitiveness of Division I.

They were concerned because teams seemed to be leaving Division I and no teams were going back into the division.

The committee talked about stabilizing the I-A schools at nine schools apiece in the Division I-A Sunrise and Sunset and this would leave 19 teams in Division I South in two leagues.

The committee voted to keep the rubric point totals in place, but to drop the “thresholds”, in order to determine movement between the Division I and I-A South. They made a motion to move the lowest four rubric point scoring schools overall from the Division I to the Division I-A, and to move the highest two rubric point scoring schools overall to the Division I, while still providing protections to those I-A schools with enrollments of less than 1,201.

This would be a static number of teams effective fall 2016 for a minimum of the next four-year realignment cycle. Motion passes.

In order to stabilize the league, this means that some schools will have to move back into Division I. The problem being, is no one feels they are ready to move back.

This includes the private school, Faith Lutheran. The Las Vegas school will be the first to admit they have had success in the Division I-A, but they argue they have not had enough to warrant being moved back into Division I.

They say they still have a long way to go before they are able to compete with schools like Bishop Gorman in football.

In addition to the expansion issue, the committee also discussed the issue of protection.

In the original agreement, Faith Lutheran, Moapa, Pahrump Valley, Virgin Valley and Boulder City were all protected schools because of their enrollment. Pahrump Valley has grown over the allowed enrollment to remain protected (1,201).

Faith Lutheran’s status as a protected school was also discussed said Donnie Nelson, assistant director of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association. He said they are no longer a protected school.

“We have a regulation that doubles the enrollment of a private school and then based on their rubric numbers over the last two years they are at the top of the Division 1-A to leave,” he said.

There is a rubric that rates when a school should leave Division I-A. It’s based on how well the school performs in competition during the three seasons.

Based on the fall and the winter seasons and last year’s performance, Faith Lutheran could find themselves in Division I soon.

Whether or not Faith Lutheran goes up to Division I remains to be seen. Nelson said it would depend on the rubric numbers and how Faith Lutheran does in the next two years.

Based on the first two seasons they are certainly on pace. They would have to continue on this pace for four more seasons. There will no change next year, but there could be in the fall of 2016.

Ed Kirkwood was at this meeting and he said that Faith Lutheran had a heated discussion about leaving the I-A. He said they made some valid points about schools in Division III not being moved up to the I-A.

“Faith Lutheran was not happy about the meeting and didn’t even stay until the end of the meeting,” Kirkwood said.

Although these are strong recommendations, the board could go either way on the approval.

“Just because the committee approves these recommendations, doesn’t mean the board of control will,” Nelson said.

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