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3-class proposal shot down

BISMARCK -- A proposal to bring three classes to North Dakota prep volleyball and basketball was defeated 110-47 during the North Dakota High School Activities Association general assembly meeting Thursday at the Ramkota Ballroom.

BISMARCK -- A proposal to bring three classes to North Dakota prep volleyball and basketball was defeated 110-47 during the North Dakota High School Activities Association general assembly meeting Thursday at the Ramkota Ballroom.

"I think it was a good process," said Edgeley Superintendant Rick Diegel, one of the authors of the proposal. "I think we worked hard in trying to create a plan that we thought would be accepted or understood by all the member schools. Edgeley has always supported a 3-class plan, and we would continue to support a 3-class plan."

There was little discussion before the vote.

Just three administrators addressed the NDHSAA membership: Valley City's Dean Koppelman, Kindred's Steve Hall and Barnes County North's Doug Jacobson.

"... I think it's something that needs to happen to level the playing field," Jacobson said.

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"A few years ago, my feeling is that we gave this authority to the Board of Directors. I think the Board is in a better position for the state of North Dakota and high school activities to make a decision about a three-class proposal," Hall said.

Diegel said the proposal was defeated likely because it did not have three separate state tournaments.

The plan was brought to the NDHSAA Board of Directors in June by a group of administrators from across the state, led by Diegel and Koppelman.

The proposal called for Class A to remain largely the same as a re-named Class AA.

The next 40 schools with the highest enrollment would make up Class A, and the almost 80 remaining schools would be Class B.

The plan combined teams from Class A and Class B for the state tournament. Each class would have advanced four teams to state, ensuring four schools with smaller enrollments would have a chance at a championship.

Initially, the proposal had Class A and Class B teams playing in separate brackets before coming together on the final day to create a "David vs. Goliath" title game.

That idea was scrapped in September due to negative feedback.

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Koppelman and Diegel said they would like to see the NDHSAA Board now pick up the reins and try to come up with a plan that would be palatable to the membership.

That has already happened.

The Board came under fire when it floated its own 3-class proposal in January 2009. That proposal was defeated by the Board 7-3 after a survey of members showed opposition to a 3-class system held an 87-76 majority.

The Board was also criticized in 2008 when it changed the enrollment cutoff for Class A from 325 to 400, which allowed Valley City to drop to Class B.

An amendment to the NDHSAA bylaws, co-sponsored by Edgeley and LaMoure, to move the cutoff back to 325 was later passed.

In 2008, a straw poll of NDHSAA members showed 78 against and 55 in favor of a 3-class system for basketball and volleyball. A 3-class plan was defeated 120-49 in 2005.

"There is some disappointment," Koppelman said. "A lot of effort was given over the past year by a number of people to develop something we thought would be a good vehicle for some positive change for kids in North Dakota and for our state.

"I don't regret at all the time spent on this."

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Hotzler is a sports reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.

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