North Dakota three-class basketball proposal receives changes, eyes passage next month

The NDHSAA executive board made some changes to the original plan, but has optimism growing for a new class.

Four Winds-Minnewaukan's Deng Deng goes up for two against Kindred during their North Dakota Class B Boys Basketball Tournament championship game Saturday, March 19, 2022, in Minot.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum

FARGO - Three-class basketball may be again on the fast track to happening in North Dakota.

The North Dakota High School Activities Association sent out an adjusted three-class plan to member schools on Friday, just after the NDHSAA Board of Directors approved it.

A survey has gone out to the superintendents of Class B schools and athletic directors at Class A schools for their input. There is a growing sense of momentum that this adjusted plan will receive support from the member schools and be signed off by the NDHSAA, sources tell WDAY Sports.

The association will meet on February 8 with a potential to vote on the three-class proposal at that meeting. The board has set a deadline of February 22 to implement three classes for the 2023-24 school year.

The major adjustment is the removal of the multiplier factor for students enrolled in a school which is defined outside of their district. This was seen as a non-starter for private schools like Fargo Oak Grove, Dickinson Trinity, Bismarck's Shiloh Christian and Bismarck St. Mary's.


Representatives from North Dakota High School Activities Association member schools sit in on Thursday's NDHSAA Board of Directors meeting in Valley City. The board voted unanimously to formally accept a proposed three-class basketball plan and will move towards approving/implementing that plan at a special meeting to be held on Feb. 8, 2023.
Ryan Spitza / The Forum

"In taking away the multiplier, they got all the teams in the same divisions." said St. Mary's athletic director Tanner Purintun. "There's a lot of people that want this to happen next year. After the December 1 meeting, a lot of people were like 'ok three classes is happening, but they are kicking the can down the road.' This changes that feeling."

The legal counsel of the NDHSAA developed a new plan on enrollment for dividing up classes. Previously, that dividing line was 325 students. Schools that had more than 325 were in Class A, fewer than 325 were Class B schools. The new proposal now has three separate divisions:

  • Division AA: Enrollment of 650 students or more (calculating students in 9-12 in falls of 2021 and 2022)
  • Division A: Enrollment of 162 to 649 students
  • Division B: Enrollment of fewer 162 students

The big key was another provision added that states that public and private schools that are located within a Division AA school district with 100-399 students will be placed in Division A. That means schools like Oak Grove, Shiloh Christian and Dickinson Trinity would move up to the newly created Division A.

It also adds that public and private schools that are located in a Division AA school district with more than 400 students will be placed into Division AA. This affects the newly opened West Fargo Horace High School, which will be moved up to the AA division under this plan. Minot North High School will also play in the top division when they begin varsity sports in the fall of 2024.

2023 NDHSAA Proposed Division AA teams
Proposed teams that will make up Division AA in 2023-24 according to the North Dakota High School Activities Association. Dom Izzo, WDAY Sports.
Izzo, Domenic

The plan also calls for a revamped tournament format for the Division A and B state tournaments. Division A and B will be made up of four regions, with the four region champions earning berths at the state tournament. The biggest change comes with state qualifier games, where the region runners-up will square off against the third place team from a different region. For example, the Region 1 runner-up would face the Region 2 third-place team. The winner would qualify for the state tournament.

2023 Division A proposed teams
Proposed teams that will make up Division A in 2023-24 according to the North Dakota High School Activities Association. Dom Izzo, WDAY Sports.
Izzo, Domenic

The state tournaments would also be played on the same weekends under this proposal. The girls Division A and B tournaments would be played February 29 - March 2. Division A would be in Minot, with B in Jamestown at the Civic Center. The "Super A" would remain the same format, played in Bismarck from March 7-9.

2023 Division B proposed teams
The 2023-24 proposed teams that will make up Division B according to the North Dakota High School Activities Association. Dom Izzo, WDAY Sports
Izzo, Domenic

That would be followed up with the boys Division A and B tournaments. The B would be played in Minot, with the A at the Fargodome March 14-16.

Back in December, the NDHSAA executive board accepted a Focus Group's proposal to add a third class, but didn't accept the Focus Group's plan as it contained the multiplier in it.


The board spent the past six weeks modifying that plan and then presented it to the member schools late last week.

Dom Izzo is the Sports Director at WDAY-TV. He began working for WDAY in 2006 as the weekend sports anchor and was promoted to Sports Director in 2010.
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