October 22, 2004
It took a little less than two hours and four proposals, but the 5A conference in Arizona high school sports will divide into a Division I and Division II when the next two-year scheduling block begins with the 2005-06 season.
The 5A executive board took that action Thursday, finally getting passed by a twothirds majority a proposal that creates new region alignments as well as splits the conference in half by enrollment. Beginning with the 2005-06 season, there will be two 5A state championships contested —one for both divisions in every sport.
The rallying cry for Thursday’s events?
‘‘I think the playing field got leveled today,’’ Peoria district athletic director Rick Johnson said. ‘‘People were together in this. There are still a lot of mechanics to work out with power points and ratings. Teams that didn’t have a chance to win a state title are going to have a better chance. I remember at Peoria in 1988 we walked off the field at Sun Devil Stadium as a champion (beating Glendale Cactus in football). It still felt as good as Division I or II. Mountain View played after us (vs. Westwood) and we didn’t even see the game because we were celebrating.’’
The key elements to the conference split:
• The top 28 enrollment schools (after appeals) will be Division I and the bottom 29 will be Division II.
• Division I and Division II designations apply to all sports.
• Power points will be used in 5A I and II, forming 16-team state tournaments in each division.
• Schools may only appeal up a division, not down, and those appeals will be made only to the 5A executive board.
• Region champs automatically qualify for the state tournament.
Four schools immediately appealed up to Division I after the proposal was passed: Phoenix St. Mary’s, Phoenix Brophy, Phoenix Xavier and Tucson Salpointe. That effectively bumped Phoenix North Canyon, Phoenix North and Peoria Sunrise Mountain to Division II pending any other appeals that are due next week (none are expected).
It’s likely now that the 4A conference, which meets on Monday to realign, will also divide into two divisions.
That means by next fall the Arizona Interscholastic Association will have to conduct seven state titles in most sports rather than the present five.
‘‘There was a strong impetus for the conference to do what it did,’’ AIA executive director Dr. Harold Slemmer said. ‘‘It will complicate things for us for sure. Two separate tournaments now. But working with the people we have I think it’s still feasible. The conferences have the authority to do this. We will respond to the need.’’
As for realignment, a ninth region will be added to the current eight in 5A. The Yuma schools (Cibola, Kofa, San Luis and Yuma High) banded together and asked Casa Grande to join them. That new alliance was accepted, ending a longstanding travel and loss-ofschool-time issue for most of the conference.
There are only slight revisions with regard to alignments for 5A East Valley schools. The East Valley Region remains the same with all six Mesa schools (minus Cibola) comprising that region. The Fiesta Region substituted Desert Ridge for Casa Grande. The Central subbed out Yuma and added Basha. The Desert Valley Region added Phoenix Shadow Mountain and dropped Kofa.
Disappointed most with the day’s results was Mesa district athletic director Steve Hogen.
‘‘It’s understandable what happened,’’ said Hogen, who presides over five of the top seven schools in 5A in terms of enrollment. ‘‘Schools want to compete and everyone was looking out for their own interests.
‘‘For Skyline (Division II) it’s great. You have to focus on the positives.’’
More fine-tuning with regard to power points and identifying what system to use remains.
‘‘It’s easy to throw out a concept,’’ Tempe district athletic director Don Wilkinson said. ‘‘But there is a lot of work, a lot left to do.’’
5A Region assignments pending region appeals for 2005-07
(* — Division I school) :
East Valley: Dobson*, Mesa*, Mtn. View*, Red Mtn.*, Skyline, Westwood*
Fiesta Region: Chandler*, Desert Ridge, Gilbert*, Hamilton*, Highland*,
Central: Basha*, Corona del Sol*, Desert Vista*, Marcos de Niza,
Desert Valley: Brophy/Xavier*, Desert Mtn., Horizon, North Canyon, Paradise Valley, St. Mary’s*, Shadow Mtn.
Desert West: Centennial, Ironwood, La Joya, Maryvale*, Peoria*, Tolleson, Westview*, Sunrise Mtn.
Metro: Alhambra*, Camelback, Carl Hayden, Cesar Chavez*, Central, North, South Mtn.
Northwest: Boulder Creek, Deer Valley, Goldwater, Kingman, Mtn. Ridge*, Sandra Day O’Connor, Trevor Browne*
Southern: Buena*, Flowing Wells, Marana Mtn. View, Salpointe*, Sunnyside, Tucson*
New Yuma region: Casa Grande*, Cibola*, Kofa, San Luis, Yuma*