VHSL Considering Switch to Six-Classification System

The landscape of high school sports in Virginia could look quite a bit different in a few years.

The Virginia High School League is exploring the idea of scrapping its current three-class format (A, AA, and AAA) and replacing it with a new six-classification format. The goal is to have the new setup installed in time for the two-year 2013-15 cycle.

"This new strategic plan could give us an opportunity to re-shape the
league," says Charlottesville High School principal Thomas Taylor, a member of the VHSL task force studying the potential change. "And really give us a different look from what the league looked like in the past. Provide more opportunities for more championships, and giving schools a fair shake."

The VHSL hasn't drastically altered its format since switching from four classifications to the current three-class format in 1970-71.

According to Taylor, the primary goals of the change would be to level the playing field for schools, based on size; and to take better advantage of geographic rivalries.

"Everybody loves to play a rival. And everybody loves to play a team that's geographically close," he says. "But in the past that hasn't really been a possibility, for schools to even play up. Because of the way the current classification system is aligned, it hasn't been to the advantage of a lot of teams to do that."

Taylor says the current VHSL format of districts and regions could be done away with. Schools could instead be placed in conferences based more on geography and preference, instead of size-based classification.

VHSL member schools will be given the chance to share their opinions on the six-classification plan at region meetings in the coming months. Any alignment plans aren't expected to be determined until August.

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