UPDATE | W.Va. BOE approves pilot program for new high school sports classification

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PUTNAM COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- UPDATE 7/10/19 @ 3:02 p.m.
The West Virginia Board of Education approved a motion Wednesday for a pilot program that will create another classification for high school sports.

The West Virginia Board of Education approved a motion Wednesday for a pilot program that will create another classification for high school sports.

Currently, there are three classifications for high school sports to balance competition: A, AA, and AAA. The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission proposed a fourth class: AAAA.

"West Virginia does not have enough high schools to have four classes. Compared to other states, this is a mockery of our state to do this," Winfield High School Principal Bruce McGrew said.

The board approved a motion to accept the proposal with a 7-2 vote.

In the past, the classifications have always been based on school enrollment. A being the lowest, and AAA being the schools with higher enrollment. With the WVSSAC's new program, there would be more deciding factors in the rank.

Now, the classification will factor in economic provisions like median income in the county, the school's proximity to a county seat and the school's proximity to large cities.

The WVSSAC said this change will balance the competition and give smaller schools a shot at the state tournament. However, many coaches and principals are not on board.

"I can tell you that the possibility of our school moving up two classes, because of this formula, will not be better for my students," Winfield High School Assistant Principal Catherine Schoolcraft said.

This will be a two-year pilot program for only boys and girls basketball. The changes will take effect in the 2020-2021 school year.

ORIGINAL STORY 5/8/19
High school sports could be seeing a major change in West Virginia during the next few years.

Currently, there are three classifications for high school sports to balance competition: A, AA, AAA. The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission is proposing another class: AAAA.

The classifications have always been based on school enrollment. A being the lowest, and AAA being the schools with higher enrollment. With the WVSSAC's new enrollment, there would be more deciding factors in the rank.

"One is enrollment of the school, another is economic factor, which is broken up into things like median income of that county, and then there is a location factor, meaning how close you are to the county seat," Winfield High School Principal Bruce McGrew said.

Winfield High School would be one of the schools most impacted by this proposed changed. At this time, the school is classified as a AA, and this new proposal could bump them up to the new category of AAAA.

"No disrespect to those who developed it and proposed it, but it's not fair," McGrew said. When Winfield was last categorized as an AA school, they had 847 students enrolled. Currently, they have 815.

The proposal is up for public comment for the next 30 days before the State Board of Education votes on it.

If this passes, the changes would start in 2021. The first two years would serve as a trial period for boys and girls high school basketball.