A week after the Idaho High School Activities Association ruled Mountain Home could drop to the 3A classification, the IHSAA board reversed course Wednesday and returned the Tigers to the 4A level.
The IHSAA responded to an appeal brought by 3A superintendents from four of the state’s six districts, IHSAA Executive Director Ty Jones said. The board voted 13-2 to keep Mountain Home in the 4A classification for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years.
“The biggest concern is the fact of how big they were compared to how small some of the other (3A) schools were they could potentially be playing,” Jones said. “You’re looking at two-and-a-half to three times the size of a school that could be playing Mountain Home. That concerned a lot of people. Not just people at those schools, but a lot of people around the state.”
Mountain Home had 952 students last school year. The 3A classification hosts schools with 320 to 640 students.
Mountain Home Athletic Director John Clark said it’s hard to understand why the Tigers have to remain at 4A when Caldwell (1,398 students), Columbia (1,323), Nampa (1,502) and Kuna (1,493.5) will all play at the 4A level next season with 5A enrollment levels.
The maximum number of students for 4A programs is 1,279.
“There are some disappointed people,” Clark said. “My only comment is if it’s not OK for us to get into a classification with schools that have just over 300 (students), why is it OK for us to be in a classification with a school that has almost 1,700 (students)?”
The move puts Mountain Home back, for now, in a 10-team 4A Southern Idaho Conference with Bishop Kelly, Caldwell, Columbia, Emmett, Kuna, Middleton, Nampa, Ridgevue and Vallivue.
Clark added Mountain Home has started preliminary discussions to join the Twin Falls-based District Four. Mountain Home would need approval from both the District Three and District Four boards of control to change districts. Neither district has ruled yet.
The IHSAA began allowing schools to drop a classification based on their competitive history this year instead of strictly by their enrollment levels.
Programs can meet the competitive guidelines in one of two ways: Have 75 percent of their team sports finish with a winning percentage at .333 or below the past two years, or have 75 percent of their individual sports finish in the bottom 50 percent of district tournaments the past two years.
There is no provision to move programs up a classification based on their success.
Mountain Home met the standards for its individual sports programs, not its team programs. But a school’s competitive history does not qualify it for an automatic change in classification. The IHSAA board makes the final decision on all classifications.
SKYVIEW WILL MOVE TO 5A
The IHSAA also rejected an appeal Wednesday from Skyview (1,334 students) to remain at the 4A level.
The rejection will give the 5A SIC 10 teams starting in 2018-19: Boise, Borah, Capital, Centennial, Eagle, Meridian, Mountain View, Skyview, Rocky Mountain and Timberline.
Skyview originally petitioned to the state’s 4A superintendents to remain 4A but was rebuffed. The Hawks then appealed to the IHSAA board but were again rejected.
“You look at the history of teams that went through it before — Nampa, Columbia, Vallivue and Caldwell — they all went up and things didn’t work out,” Skyview Athletic Director Eric Bonds said. “They were decimated. Some are still fighting to get back (to success) at the 4A level.”
But with a rejection from the state’s superintendents and Skyview’s historical success in 4A, the IHSAA board denied the appeal 15-0.
“Skyview chose to get the superintendent vote, which is a compelling denial,” IHSAA board member Tol Gropp said. “The board is probably not going to go against the superintendents.”
New-look 5A, 4A SIC
The 5A and 4A Southern Idaho Conferences will each have 10 teams in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years after the IHSAA’s rulings Wednesday. However, Mountain Home is considering an appeal to leave the conference and join the Twin Falls-based District Four.
- Mountain View
- Rocky Mountain
- Bishop Kelly
- Mountain Home