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GHSA installs rating system to determine Class A playoff teams
Change also coming to basketball tournament locations
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MACON — It was described as a cross between the BCS and NCAA college basketball, and it’s coming to high school sports in Georgia.

It’s the new power ratings system, which will determine which teams advance to the separate public and private Class A state playoffs, and how they are seeded.

Monday at the Macon Marriott City Center, the Georgia High School Association Executive Committee put in place much of the structure for the upcoming 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 school years, including how to manage the switch from five to seven state champions.

At the January meeting, the committee ratified the new classification and region realignment, which added a sixth classification, as well as voting to split Class A state championships between public and private schools.

The new rating system, which will be employed for Class A football, softball, baseball and basketball, varies from sport to sport, and will determine, based on wins and strength of opponents, which wild card teams (teams that did not win their region) will advance to the state tournaments. The system is needed because Class A schools will still play regular season schedules in mixed regions that include both public and private schools.

When the regular season ends, each of the eight region champions will automatically qualify for either the public or private 16-team state tournament. Then the GHSA will compute rankings to determine seeding for both wild card and region winners in the playoffs.

Cross country, track and field, golf and tennis will all also be split in Class A, although they will use an area rather than a region format. The area format is used for sports that lack the necessary teams for regions, thus schools from a larger area can be grouped together. In many sports this includes a sectional tournament to thin the state tournament field.

Due to the limited number of teams competing in Class A volleyball, wrestling, swimming and diving, soccer, lacrosse, riflery and gymnastics, these sports will not compete in separate championships.

In other news, basketball and soccer teams will be heading to new venues in next year’s state championships.

The committee voted to put quarterfinal basketball games at the site of the higher seed instead of regional venues like Dalton or Savannah. Semifinal games will then be held at one location for each classification and championship games at a separate location, instead of both games being at either Macon or Gwinnett as they have been in the past. New locations are yet to be determined.

The GHSA will also be able to determine, based on state finals matchups, at which location and at what time each game will be played. The determinations will be based on many factors and will be made as soon as semifinal games are completed.

“We wanted to increase our options, not limit them,” GHSA Executive Director Ralph Swearngin said. “This gives us more options.”

As for soccer, championship games will be played at either the Kennesaw State’s soccer field or the Silverback professional soccer stadium at the juncture of Interstate 85 and Interstate 285.

While much of the meeting was spent looking to the future, an appeal had the members looking to the past.

The committee granted Gordon Lee High School the Class A wrestling duals state championship after representatives argued that a decision at the tournament in January was made incorrectly and resulted in Holy Innocents’ winning the title in a close finals match.

The majority of the committee voted to give Gordon Lee the state championship based on the findings.

“I knew it could go either way,” said Swearngin, who added that he did not think they should not be considered co-champions, as that could diminish the honor. “I’m still concerned with the precedent it set.”

Holy Innocents’, which had representatives present as well, will not lose its state title.

Some of the more spirited discussion at the meeting involved football practice.

The committee voted to allow schools to start practice up to five work days before Aug. 1, at which time teams can practice in full pads.

During the discussion, a motion was made to vote to end spring football practice.

After much discussion, it was agreed to send the proposal to the football committee for review. Still, the motion raised some debate between members, some of whom have had a hard time fitting spring practice in.

Another motion that the committee will look further into was brought up by the Region 8-AAA representative, who asked the committee for a survey to determine the interest in moving golf from the spring to the fall, when, the member said, the courses are in better shape.

The survey will also include the possibility of moving either girls or boys to spring and leaving the other in the fall.

Swearngin said that the results of the survey will be available in time for discussion during the August meeting.

A number of other proposals were denied or tabled. A proposal to allow GISA and GHSA schools to play one another will be looked at later, as will a proposal to move baseball state championships to a central site.

A proposal by the golf committee to expand the state golf championships to a two-day, 36-hole event was denied; a separate motion to allow three girls golfers to have their scores counted in Classes AAA-AAAAAA was passed.


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