IHSAA member schools voting to use socioeconomic factors for football classifications

What class a high school football team plays in might soon be decided partly by a socioeconomic factor.

The Iowa High School Athletic Association announced yesterday that the board of control had approved an amendment factoring a school’s free-and-reduced priced lunch count to be cut from a school’s annual enrollment to determine the football team’s final classification number.

“I want to commend the IHSAA classification committee, the board of control, and the IHSAA staff for their important work on this study and resulting recommendation,” IHSAA executive director Tom Keating said. “Our schools have asked us to consider socioeconomic factors in classification, and the IHSAA, after much study and discussion, is pleased to offer such a strategy.”

The plan would mirror the one currently used by the Minnesota State High School League. The IHSAA classification committee recommends that 40 percent of a school’s free-and-reduced priced lunch count as the factoring number.

Example: A school’s BEDS enrollment (9-11) for the upcoming school year is 1,000. The district’s FRL percentage is 37%.

  • 1,000 – (0.40 x [1,000 x 0.37])
  • 1,000 – 0.40 x 370
  • 1,000 – 148
  • IHSAA classification number: 852

“The overwhelming majority of communication regarding concerns with competitive equity referenced football,” Keating said. “Additionally, football is the only sport in which the regular season is scheduled by the IHSAA. In all other sports, individual schools, through conference affiliation or their non-conference opponents, determine their own regular season schedules. We will continue to study other sports to determine if this model should be applied.”

The amendment will now be voted on by the member schools statewide via email. The voting will occur between December 16th and December 22nd, and if approved, it will then be submitted to the Iowa State Board of Education for approval. If the board of ed approves, the new model will go into effect starting in the 2023-2024 year.

In a release, the IHSSA says their staff, board, and the classification committee considered numerous models and possibilities for classification over the last several years, including a two-year run as a joint committee alongside the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union. And that last week’s recommendation from the committee’s member school administrators was the first proposing adjusting how school enrollments are quantified for sports classifications.




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