Wisconsin Sports

Should WIAA treat private schools differently?

Vote on enrollment multiplier looms Wednesday

Should WIAA treat private schools differently?

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - The WIAA's initial release called this one of the most significant proposals it has seen in years.

"It would be a very large change from how things have been handled for the last what, 13, 14 years here," Luther activities director Joel Babinec said.

A change, in response to what some see as a problem.

"It boils down to representation at the state tournament, particularly in basketball, for private schools versus public schools," Logan activities director Steve Hole said. "The percentage is out of whack."

In February, 66 schools signed a petition to create an amendment that would try to even the playing field. 11 local schools signed it, including Black River Falls.

"I think there are some schools that are definitely recruiting top athletes to come to their schools, versus, a great student there," Black River Falls activities Director Jim Rufsholm said.

The proposed solution is to artificially increase the enrollment of private schools come tournament time. The WIAA would use a 1.65 enrollment multiplier. For example, Luther's enrollment would increase from 266 to 439 (266 x 1.65). The Knights could move from division five to division four in football, and from division four to division three in basketball.

"It would be a huge challenge for us," Babinec said. "We have a hard enough time in the enrollment level that we're at."

Aquinas could move up as much as two divisions in football. In basketball, where the Blugolds have won two state titles the past four years, they would likely remain in division three, according to Aquinas activities director Ted Knutson.

Babinec said it's unfair for all private schools to be in the same boat.

"There are so many different things about the private schools that make them all uniquely different. This particular amendment would treat them all exactly the same," Babinec said.

The WIAA has also expressed concerns that the amendment could be divisive.

"It would start to treat one segment of the membership differently than other segments," Babinec said.

"Is it fair to treat one group different than another? That's another question," Hole said.

"We were at our spring caucus last week and both Ted from Aquinas and Joel from Luther both agreed that something needs to be done. But is this the right solution?"

But those who signed that initial petition say that's exactly what Wednesday's meeting is for.

"My main reason for having our superintendent sign was just to get further discussion on the issue," Rufsholm said.

Knutson, a WIAA board member, said he would prefer to wait until after Wednesday's vote to comment. A simple majority vote from the schools in attendance is all that is necessary for passage.

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