The gym floor at Milan High School.
(Milan, Ind.) – Indiana basketball purists who long for the good ol’ days and those who favor a multiple class high school basketball tournament can sound off at eleven upcoming meetings.
Indiana High School Athletic Association Commissioner Bobby Cox and State Senator Mike Delph (R-Carmel) will hold the town hall meetings across the state to guage how much interest there is from fans, players, coaches, and others in going back to single-class high school hoops.
The closest of the 11 statewide meetings will be at Milan High School on May 1 at 7:00 p.m.
Critics have cited class basketball as the reason for declining attendance at high school games. They point to a record low attendance of less than 23,000 people at last weekend’s four state championship games.
Earlier this year, state lawmakers considered legislation to mandate the IHSAA go back to a one-class basketball postseason tournament. The bill was originally proposed by State Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg).
The bill’s language was rolled into a larger bill authored by Delph. He struck a deal with the IHSAA to drop the legislation with the understanding that the IHSAA would at least consider the idea of returning to the single class system that existed prior to 1998.
Cox has dismissed a reversal of class basketball. Former commissioner Blake Ress conducted a survey in 2005 in which 36 out of 341 principals were in favor of going back to single class.
"While the IHSAA is a private, non-for-profit membership organization with elected representation, I feel it is important for our organization to listen to the opinions of the general public in an effort to clearly communicate those sentiments to our member schools,” Cox said in a statement. “The principals within our 408 member schools rely on the Association for current and relevant data to equip them to make informed decisions regarding education-based athletics within our state. I look forward to travelling the state with Senator Delph and visiting with Hoosiers during the next two months.”
On April 29, 1996, the IHSAA Board of Directors approved by a 12-5 vote a proposal from the Class Sports Study Committee which recommended multiple class tournament formats in the sports of boys basketball, girls basketball, boys soccer, girls soccer, baseball, softball and volleyball with a maximum of four classes. Implementation of the new formats began with the 1997-98 school year with the exception of soccer.
The vote prompted the first referendum of school principals in IHSAA history in September, 1996 and the membership upheld the action by a 220-157 count.
On May 3, 1999, as mandated by the original vote in 1996 that implemented the multiple-class format, the Board reviewed the initiative and rejected by a vote of 13-5 a motion to return to a single-class tournament in those sports. The Board had the option of retaining a multiple-class format, returning to a single-class format or approving a hybrid of the two formats.
Here is the complete meeting schedule:
April 10 Fort Wayne Northrop High School
April 16 Vincennes Lincoln High School
April 17 Plainfield High School
April 23 Seymour High School
April 24 Pendleton Heights High School
April 25 Merrillville High School
May 1 Milan High School
May 8 Plymouth High School
May 10 Marion High School
May 16 Connersville High School
May 24 Gary Roosevelt High School