Proposal seeks to address perceived competitive imbalance in Kansas high school sports

Proposal from Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) is looking to address what seem see as an imbalance between public and private schools.
Published: Aug. 11, 2022 at 9:19 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A proposal from the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) is looking to address what seem see as an imbalance between public and private school athletics.

Earlier this year, a majority of KSHSAA member schools approved the multiplier, now being heard by the state board of education. The multiplier would apply to private schools that have won five or more team state championships, across all sports, in the last five years.

If that is the case, they would move up at least one class in the KSHSAA classification. So, in effect, a 4A private school would move up to 5A. Currently, the classification for every school, public and private, is based only on student enrollment.

Just outside the Kansas City metro area, Paola High School Principal Jeff Hines said he’s been digging into this for at least a decade and has data to back up there’s an issue.

“Private schools in our state make up less than 8% of membership but they’re winning nearly 40% of the championships,” Hines said. “You should expect 8% of the schools to win roughly 8% of the championships.

What Hines described as a competitive imbalance in favor of some private schools led Hines to seek solutions. He supports KSHSAA’s multiplier that’s currently proposed.

“This is the furthest we’ve ever gotten in terms of addressing competitive imbalance and hopefully creating a postseason tournament series for student athletes and activity participants in the state of Kansas that is truly equitable for all,” Hines said.

With the proposal, select private schools that have won five state team championships across all sports in the last five years would begin with a 1.0 multiplier, moving the school up to the next highest KSHSAA class which tops out at 6A. There are other factors that would be weighed, including another championship factor that could multiply it higher. There are also separate, geographic population and socio-economic factors that could increase the multiplier.

“For more than half of the private schools in Kansas, they wouldn’t be impacted in any shape or form by this proposal,” Hines said.

One of the private schools is Wichita’s Kapaun Mt. Carmel High School that would move up from 5A to 6A.

“The success of 28 kids over five years who have to win two girls golf championships, two boys golf championships, a bowling and a tennis (championship) out of about 2,000 kids that participated (over that five years) at Kapaun, it seems pointless that we would be moved on the multiplier,” said Kapaun Mt. Carmel Athletic Director Marty Straub.

Straub said this is mainly in response to a handful of Kansas City area private schools that have dominated state championships.

“In the end, it’s really about the kids. It’s not about the ego of the adults, and I think all these arguments ended up being focused more on the frustration of adults,” Straub said.

He said the issue with the perceived competitive imbalance is with a handful of schools.

“If they aren’t following the rules, if they are recruiting, if they are using undue influence, if they are doing those things, the rest of the state shouldn’t have to carry that burden,” Straub said.

For passage, the multiplier needs approval form the state board of education which plans to take it up at their September meeting. The Kansas legislature would also need to sign off before this could take effect and state lawmakers don’t return until January.

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