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NDHSAA to assess 3-class system

MINOT -- No specifics are on the table. But the North Dakota High School Activities Association board of directors will be looking into the merits of a 3-class basketball system in the future.

MINOT -- No specifics are on the table. But the North Dakota High School Activities Association board of directors will be looking into the merits of a 3-class basketball system in the future.

On Friday, a straw vote at the annual meeting of the NDHSAA District Chairs Committee passed by a 14-2 margin for the NDHSAA Board of Directors to look into a 3-class system. No specific plan was designated.

"We want to make it right for the kids, what's right for the competitive level and for the kids we're serving,'' said District 15 committee member Randy Cranston, the athletic director at Watford City.

Cranston said District 15 members have four different proposals to be considered. "I don't know which one of them is the best,'' Cranston said.

"We can propose a plan. But it won't be here.''

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The straw vote means the 11-member NDHSAA board will begin exploring a switch from the current 2-class system at its June meeting.

"It's been on the district chairs' agenda at their meeting the last two years,'' Matt Fetsch, executive director of the NDHSAA, said. "There wasn't enough interest for it to go to a vote. But opinions change.

"There are three non-public schools playing in the state tournament semis. Historically, this (discussion) seems to come up based on who's in the state tournament.''

Final say in implementation of a 3-class system belongs to the NDHSAA board. Fetsch said that, historically, the board has gone through a process to get feedback from member schools.

NDHSAA board vice president Brad Rinas of Washburn said one thing he would be nervous about in a 3-class system is watering down the state tournaments. Rinas said his opinion of a 3-class system has evolved through the years.

"I was (initially) adamantly opposed to a 3-class system,'' Rinas said. "But I've changed my opinion. I'm not a proponent, but I'm not opposed to it.

"When past 3-class proposals have come up and been voted down, the majority (opposing change) has come from the small schools, not the large schools. I think one fear is (a 3-class system) will place artificial barriers about playing teams we normally play. If you're a B school, will you want to play a C school?''

Fetsch said not having a specific proposal in line won't impede the process.

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"I think the idea is to start with the board discussing it and go from there as far as something specific,'' Fetsch said. "I don't know what will happen. It will be our board's call. But a 14-2 straw vote will probably open it up.''

Fetsch said statewide discussion about switching from the current 2-class system to a 3-class system has come up several times in the past and has gone to a vote of member schools. "A few times, it's been close to passing,'' Fetsch said.

The straw vote is in favor of a switch to a 3-class system for the 2017-18 school year.

"It would be a challenge to get it done that quickly,'' Fetsch said. "But it wouldn't be impossible.''

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