Move up or move out.
Those appear to be the choices for New Mexico’s private school athletic programs.
The New Mexico Activities Association released four proposals for classification and alignment beginning the 2014-15 school years at its board of directors meeting Monday.
Two plans include an enrollment multiplier to all boarding and private schools. One proposal opts to move those schools into a separate division of two classes, while another divides the group as equally as possible among five classes.
NMAA associate athletic director Robert Zayas said each proposal uses a three-year average of every school’s 40-day enrollment figures to arrive at a base number, with a multiplying factor of 1.5 applied to private and boarding schools in two of the plans.
Zayas emphasized that the organization poured over numerous alignment proposals over the last 18 months, and taken input from as many members as possible before releasing these options.
“I have been at the NMAA for 10 years, and any time you talk about alignment and classification, it is something people feel strongly about,” Zayas said. “I think it is one of those that comes with what we do, but it is one of the more difficult things we are in charge of.”
This time, though, it seems the proposals are provoking a winner-takes-all fight in the battle between private and public schools.
“It seems that the submessage here is somebody has a vendetta and is trying to [upset] the private schools by putting them in a higher class or by singling them out,” said Santa Fe Prep athletic director Todd Kurth, whose school would move up to Class AAA in two of the proposals.
All of the proposals use the boys basketball division as the base for its proposal, and all of a school’s programs would play at that level.
Proposal No. 1 keeps the six class system (B to AAAAA), with the significant changes coming from Santa Fe Prep (AA to AAA) and Desert Academy (A to AA).
The second formula has five classes, with the top four each having 31 schools. Class A will have 33. This proposal moves Santa Fe High in AAAAA (which is the case in every proposal but one), while AAAA adds St. Michael’s, SFIS, Pojoaque Valley and Taos. Santa Fe Prep again is in AAA, as is Desert Academy.
The third proposal places the non-public schools in their own division with two classes of 12 schools. St. Michael’s, SFIS and Santa Fe Prep are in AA, while Desert Academy, Santa Fe Waldorf and New Mexico School for the Deaf are in A. The rest of the schools are divided among four classes, with Santa Fe High in AAAA.
The final proposal has five classes, with the non-public schools sprinkled into each class. St. Michael’s would move into AAAAA, SFIS would join AAAA, Santa Fe Prep and Desert Academy go to AAA, while NMSD and Waldorf are in AA.
St. Michael’s head girls basketball coach Martin Romero feels that the proposals fails to give non-public schools a good option, and added that there is a sense those schools are being punished for their success.
“If they are going to force the hands of the private schools, then they should just let them recruit if they think it’s an unfair advantage,” Romero said. “It amazes me that they are trying to take away the titles the private schools get. They feel like there is an edge to going to a private school.”
In the spring, the NMAA looked at asking certain programs from non-public schools to play up a class or two, but Zayas said it would disrupt the homogeneity of those athletic programs to play one sport in one class and another sport in another.It also would make alignment even more difficult than it is for the NMAA.
“It would make things very cumbersome,” Zayas said.
Contact James Barron at 986-3045 or firstname.lastname@example.org.