The Iowa High School Athletic Association’s Board of Control decided Wednesday to shift football to a one-year scheduling cycle and adjust the regular season format of large-school Class 4A over competitive concerns.
In response to ongoing classification discussions and the implementation of a success model to 4A, the board used the special session to approve football districts for just one season, dropping the typical two-year scheduling alignment as a one-time measure. As a result, the IHSAA will reassess football formats again following the 2020 season.
“We have solicited lots of feedback from our membership and a one-year cycle gives us more time to evaluate that feedback and work on making classifications better,” IHSAA Board of Control chairperson Rod Earleywine said. “It’s never going to be perfect, but we acknowledge that there are problems with our current classification system and we need to see what kind of improvements we can make.”
Class 4A, currently the division for the state’s largest high schools by enrollment, will feature 40 teams in a new regular season arrangement during the 2020 football season. Seven groups will be organized for geography and with the intention of providing greater competitive balance to scheduling. The groups were organized by measuring a program’s last four years of football results through the IHSAA’s Ratings Percentage Index formula and their last four years of playoff success.
No other classifications had this system applied to their redistricting process in this cycle.
“This process took longer than usual because of the focus football has received from our classification committee, and our ongoing conversations with Class 4A programs over their competitive concerns,” IHSAA executive director Tom Keating said.
“Through this new model, we believe we’ve increased the opportunities for schools to play football against schools like their own. Programs experiencing participation challenges believe this is a way to encourage more students to play.”
Playoff recommendations out of December’s meeting of the IHSAA football advisory committee, headlined by a proposal for an eight-game regular season and 32 playoff qualifiers in each of Class 3A, 2A, 1A, A, and Eight-Player, were denied by the board on Wednesday.
The 2020 season will feature nine regular season games and 16 playoff qualifiers in all classes. Playoff procedures – district champions earning automatic berths, Ratings Percentage Index ranking the remaining at-large qualifiers – will stay the same in 3A, 2A, 1A, A, and 8P. All 16 playoff spots in 4A will be considered at-large and determined via RPI.
-story by IHSAA