Three-class plan proposed: Decision on basketball, volleyball changes to be made April 15

An idea with more lives than Jason Voorhees of the "Friday The 13th" movie franchise has been resurrected again by the North Dakota High School Activities Association.

An idea with more lives than Jason Voorhees of the "Friday The 13th" movie franchise has been resurrected again by the North Dakota High School Activities Association.

The association on Monday proposed a three-division plan for basketball and volleyball to its general assembly of members in Bismarck.

A decision will be made on April 15, following regional input meetings in February.

"It's a done deal from the standpoint that this is the concept the board would like to move forward with," NDHSAA executive secretary Sherm Sylling said Wednesday. "It's what the board would like to see happen."

The proposal calls for schools with enrollments of 400 and larger to be in the 2A Division.


The next 32 schools would be in A, and the rest in B.

Any school can petition the NDHSAA to move up.

Valley City, Fargo Shanley and Bismarck-St. Mary's would be in Class A.

The changes would take effect in 2010-11.

Fairmount-Campbell-Tintah girls basketball coach Jay Townsend said he had heard concerns about the future of the Class B tournament, and the high cost of traveling greater distances under the new plan.

However, Townsend said he is in favor of the change.

"I think it's just equity amongst the schools," said Townsend, whose program would be one of the smallest in the new B Division with an enrollment of about 85 in grades 9-12.

"These smaller schools are starting to hurt for numbers. ... I think (three divisions) will (become reality)."


Also the athletic director at Fairmount High School, Townsend said his and other small schools in North Dakota have been limited due to declining enrollment.

F-C-T has projected declining numbers for students out for athletics each year through 2015, Townsend said.

"We don't have much to work with in practice," he said. "My assistant and I have had to jump in to practices to give our girls a different look. On the boys team, we've had to pull up 7th and 8th graders to our junior varsity."

Wyndmere volleyball coach Chris Swenson said a change is needed.

"I don't think we're ever going to get a plan that has everyone's support," he said. "Everyone has to look at it with their school's best interest in mind. But I'm in favor of a change."

Wyndmere would co-op with Lidgerwood in boys and girls basketball and volleyball under the new plan.

In the proposal, the Wyndmere-Lidgerwood programs would be one of the largest in the B Division with an enrollment of 144.

Swenson said his school could be moved up to A if more current enrollment numbers are used in the final version of the plan.


"I believe something will happen," Swenson said. "... We'll go where they tell us to go."

The new plan could be closer than any other to becoming a reality due to a recent change in the NDHSAA bylaws.

Previous incarnations of a three-division system had to go to a vote of member schools. All proposals have been rejected.

The activities association can now make changes in basketball without a vote, Sylling said.

"The way I look at it is that we're giving kids more of a chance to have success at a higher level," Swenson said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562. Hotzler's blogs can be found at

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