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UHSAA sets region alignments for 2017–18

Feb 08, 2017 04:44PM ● Published by Bryan Scott

By Greg James | gregj@mycityjournals.com

The Utah High School Activities Association recently rearranged its member schools region alignments, a process it revisits every two years. It has also been forced by the Utah State Board of education to revise its own transfer rules.


“I personally like that the activities association reevaluates the region alignments every once in a while,” said Riverton High School Athletic Director Daniel Henderson. “It helps keep the classification and school sizes close. I think it also helps with safety and spreads out travel costs.”


Under current UHSAA rules, regions are realigned  on a two-year cycle. The proposed school classification was presented in a public meeting in November. In December, the UHSAA proposal for the 2017-18 school year was approved. 


The biggest change in the upcoming school year will be the division's six classifications for all sports.


Salt Lake County schools were affected by the changes in various ways. Here is how the regions stack up:


Region 2 will maintain some and add longtime rivalries amongst neighboring schools: Hunter, Granger, Hillcrest and Kearns will be joined by Cyprus. The Pirates jumped into the 6A classification because of its adding ninth-grade students from Brockbank Junior High.. 


Region 3 will see a complete makeover. West Jordan, Copper Hills and Taylorsville will welcome Riverton, Herriman and East (in football only). East is the defending 4A state football champion. 


“In my, opinion the realignment is a good thing,” said Copper Hills Athletic Director Darby Cowles. “I wish they could last three years though, to help us continue and build rivalries.” 


Bingham representatives argued during the alignment public hearing that placing it in Region 4 would force higher travel costs on its programs. Its requests were denied, and it was placed in the prominently Utah County region with American Fork, Lone Peak, Westlake and Pleasant Grove.


The 2017 6A football playoffs could be exciting. Current classification champions East and Bingham will both be in the 6A classification.


East will face Highland Olympus, Murray, Skyline and West (Lehi will take East's place for football only).


Region 7 will pair Alta, Brighton, Jordan, Corner Canyon, Cottonwood and Timpview.


Smaller county schools such Providence Hall, Summit Academy, Judge Memorial and American Leadership will move to the 3A classification.


“At the end of the day, the UHSAA has an incredible task to make everyone happy,” West Jordan boys basketball coach Scott Briggs said. “There is no way they can. We are content with the changes. The transfer rule change is going to be difficult. Every time I discipline a player, I will wonder if he is going to leave.” 


The trustee alignment meetings were overshadowed by the Utah State Board of Education's fall ruling to open the student athletes transfer ability. The UHSAA was forced to change its guidelines in relationship to transfers. Sub-varsity athletes are now eligible to transfer at will; varsity athletes may only transfer in defined circumstances. 


“I think these new rules will encourage coaches to make varsity rosters with many freshman players to prevent them from transferring,” Cowles said.


From July 2015 to June 2016 the UHSAA had 1,994 student athletes request transfers; only 16 transfer requests were denied. 


“I feel that some of our Hunter kids go to other schools because of the wrong reasons,” said Hunter head football coach Scott Henderson. “Sports teaches more than just the activity. It teaches integrity and character. It is now all about winning. True development of the student athlete has been lost.” 


Open enrollment has forced many high school coaches to recruit its own boundary students to stay in their hometown program. 


“I know we lose many incoming freshman to other schools,” Scott Henderson said. “We do not know the numbers, but we hear it a lot.”


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