Proposal seeks to address perceived competitive imbalance in Kansas high school sports

WICHITA, Kansas (KWCH) — A proposal from the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) aims to address what appears to be an imbalance between athletics in public and private schools.

Earlier this year, a majority of KSHSAA member schools approved the multiplier, which is now being heard by the state Board of Education. The multiplier would apply to private schools that have won at least five state team championships, in any sport, in the past five years.

If so, they would move up at least one class in the KSHSAA classification. So, in effect, a 4A private school would upgrade to 5A. Currently, the classification of each school, public and private, is based solely on student enrollment.

Just outside the Kansas City metro area, Paola High School Principal Jeff Hines said he’s been digging this for at least a decade and has data to confirm there’s had a problem.

“Our state’s private schools make up less than 8 percent of the membership, yet they win nearly 40 percent of the championships,” Hines said. “You should expect 8% of schools to win about 8% of championships.

What Hines described as a competitive imbalance in favor of certain private schools led Hines to seek solutions. It supports the KSHSAA multiplier that is currently on offer.

“This is the furthest we’ve ever come in terms of reducing the competitive imbalance and hopefully creating a post-season tournament series for student-athletes and activity participants in the state of Kansas that is truly fair for everyone,” Hines said.

With the proposal, some private schools that have won five state team championships in all sports in the last five years would start with a multiplier of 1.0, moving the school to the next highest KSHSAA class that peaks at 6A. There are other factors that would be weighed, including another championship factor that could multiply it higher. There are also distinct geographic, demographic and socio-economic factors that could increase the multiplier.

“For more than half of the private schools in Kansas, they would not be affected in any way by this proposal,” Hines said.

One of the private schools is Kapaun Mt. Carmel High School in Wichita which would be upgraded from 5A to 6A.

“The success of 28 children over five years to win two girls’ golf championships, two boys’ golf championships, bowling and tennis (championship) out of approximately 2,000 children who participated (in those five years) in Kapaun , it seems pointless that we would be moved on the multiplier,” said Kapaun Mt. Carmel athletic director Marty Straub.

Straub said it was primarily in response to a handful of Kansas City-area private schools dominating the state championships.

“At the end of the day, it’s really about the children. It’s not about adult ego, and I think all of these arguments ended up focusing more on adult frustration,” Straub said.

He said the problem of perceived competitive imbalance concerns a handful of schools.

“If they’re not following the rules, if they’re recruiting, if they’re using undue influence, if they’re doing these things, the rest of the state shouldn’t have to bear that burden,” said Straub.

For the pass, the multiplier must be approved by the state board of education, which plans to take it up at its September meeting. The Kansas legislature would also have to approve before it could go into effect, and state lawmakers won’t return until January.

Copyright 2022 KWCH. All rights reserved.

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