The Georgia High School Association’s lack of commitment to competitive balance in high school athletics directly effects public schools across the state during Class AAA and AAAA state playoffs.
Since the 2016 reclassification, the eight Atlanta-area private schools in AAA and AAAA, representing 7 percent of all schools, won 40 percent of state titles (23 of 58 competitions). Since 2000, these eight private schools have won 240 state titles while competing in AAA and AAAA.
While this tremendous disparity continues in AAA and AAAA, Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, sponsored Senate Bill 456, which requires GHSA split all sports in Class A. Class A public school Gordon Lee is in Sen. Jeff Mullis’ district. Last fall, Gordon Lee lost to a private school in the volleyball playoffs. Not unusual since no A public school has won a state championship in volleyball. AJC high school sports reporter Todd Holcomb was the first to report this on April 9. During the 2016 reclassification, Gordon Lee moved down from Class AA to A. Senate Bill 456 can be found at www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/20172018/174279.pdf.
During the 2012 GHSA reclassification, two of the A sports not split into both public and private playoffs are soccer and volleyball. In an unusual move, GHSA recently split the playoffs for these two sports.
The previously stated reason why these two sports have not been split in A is due to inadequate school participation rates. The timing of GHSA’s decision and Senate Bill 456 are not random events.
Last Nov. 30, the Alabama High School Athletic Association approved a new competitive balance plan that only affects private schools. This plan is based on a private school’s success rate, by sport, in state tournaments and was adopted by a bipartisan group of public and private school administrators. If a private school has significant success in state tournaments during a three-year period by sport, that school will move up a classification in that sport.
On March 14, the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association voted to completely split public and private schools into separate divisions. This applies to all competitions. Twenty-one years ago, the TSSAA took the first step by placing private schools into a separate division if these schools offered need-based financial aid. The March 2018 TSSAA proposal to completely split public and private schools was submitted by Memphis private school Harding Academy. The proposal passed unanimously and will go into effect during the 2019-20 school year.
GHSA’s lack of commitment to competitive balance in AAA and AAAA and Sen. Mullis’ decision to create additional parity in Class A speaks volumes for where priorities lie. Both the public/private 1A split in 2012 and GHSA’s 2016 decision to push AA private schools out of AA, proves there should be separate public and private school playoffs in all sports and in all classifications, not just the two lower classifications. Unfortunately for AAA and AAAA public schools in 2018, it will be wash, rinse, and repeat.
Both Liberty County High School and Long County High School compete in Class AAA of the Georgia High School Association.