Two Cents From the Franklin Mint: It’s Still a Bloated Mess

Updated: January 13, 2021

It’s Still a Bloated Mess

Just a few weeks ago, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association released its plans for the 2021-2025 Realignment to including schematics, initial drafts, and conferences.

When the NCHSAA tried to expand to a fifth classification and to make Realignment occur more frequently, Realignment was to be delayed by one academic year. When these votesfailed along with COVID-19 concerns, Realignment went back to its original course. Realignment will now go into effect on August 1, 2021.

As opposed to recent versions when Realignment primarily involved only one component, this version of the “Ole Switcheroo” includes two more. 

Component #1 remains the Average Daily Membership, or ADM. This remains the average enrolment of a school from 9th through 12th grades factoring admissions and departures throughout the academic year. The ADM score is originated by utilizing the school’s 2019-2020 ADM number, as published by the NCHSAA prior to the 2019 football playoffs, and multiplying it by 50 percent.

(Example – 2019-2020 ADM x .50 = ADM score)

Component #2 is a schematic known as the State Cup Score. The Wells Fargo Cup or “State Cup” is a yearly NCHSAA award that recognizes the high schools that achieve the best overall athletic performance within each of the Association’s four classifications. The State Cup is based on overall performance, primarily scored by season finish and postseason play.When teams participate in their respective sports, they are given a score at the end of that season that is scored into the overall standings of the Wells Fargo Cup.

Calculating the State Cup score will consist of multiple steps. First is finding the State Cupaverage of the last three years. 

[Example – (2018 score + 2019 score + 2020 score) / 3 = Three-year State Cup average]

After tabulating the three-year average, it is then multiplied it by 25 percent for the official score.

(Example – Three-year State Cup average x .25 = State Cup Score)

Component #3 is the Identified Student Percentage, or ISP. The ISP is the number of students in a school who receives some form of government assistance via guidelines fromthe U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The ISP score will be the most complicated score to compile. First, the Association will find the three-year ISP average for each school, just like with the State Cup Score. Although, the Association voted to eliminate the highest of the three scores as certain discrepancies in numbers from incidents such as natural disasters or other Acts of God could impact a school’s overall realignment score.

[Example – (2018 ISP + 2019 ISP + 2020 ISP) / 3 = Three-year ISP average]

Second, the Association will determine a school’s ISP multiplier by placing each school using a comparative & precise distribution range from .25 to 1.75. Schools that have related ISP averages will be found among similar spots on the distribution range. The higher a school’s ISP average, the lower the multiplier will be. This means that the more students at a school receiving government assistance, the lower the multiplier the school will have, thereby reducing its realignment score. Once the ISP multiplier is identified, the Association will multiply the school’s 2019-2020 ADM number by the ISP multiplier to reveal the ISP factor.(Example – 2019-2020 ADM x ISP multiplier = ISP factor)

Third, when the ISP factor is determined, it is multiplied by 25 percent to get the ISP score for the school. (Example – ISP factor x .25 = ISP score).

The organized calculation of all three components equals a school’s Realignment Score.

Did anyone understand all of that? Neither did I. 

The blueprint for classification reminds me of the obscure Adjusted MaxPreps Ranking, themonolithic Bowl Championship Series formula, and the mysterious trade secret for Colonel Sanders’ Original Recipe of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Despite the openness to do one’s own homework, realignment has again resulted in a cluster of clutter factored by a tedious set of schematics.

Last year, I filed an article wishing for the NCHSAA to designate schools per region, as such designations would allow schools to budget funds set aside for away sporting events and make playoff seeding more easily. The Association has adopted this measure, as the East / West boundary will be set west of the counties of Caswell, Alamance, Chatham, Moore, and Richmond. This will also take effect at Realignment in August.

Despite its overall framework, the Association seemed to return Orange and Cedar Ridge to historical roots. I spoke with our fearless leader, Jeff Hamlin, who passionately recalled of some classic games of the Panthers & Red Wolves against Carrboro, Eastern Alamance, Northwood, Walter Williams, and Western Alamance. While I look forwards to these games, I’m also looking forwards to some shorter drives, especially avoiding the near 60-mile trek to Vance County.

Another Christmas gift the Association has given to all of us through Realignment will be the elimination of split classifications for the football playoffs, which will go into effect in the 2021-2022 season. In previous editions, I cited examples of snafus, favored positions despite producing abysmal season results, and an excessive number of inferior playoff teams with sub-500 records. Hopefully, the playoffs can return to some normalcy with a plain’ol, 16-team tournament on both sides of the state. 

One can also hope that playoffs in other events can be reduced from the engorged 64-team brackets, to a smaller 48-team tourney that rewards the best teams with a bye in the first round. In essence, it’s quality over quantity.

My overall take on the current events from the NCHSAA is that it’s still swollen. Despite some good changes, it’s not enough. We will never see any truly reformed efforts until the principals and athletic directors vote to change the NCHSAA by-laws by expanding the Associationbeyond four classes. 

As I’ve said before, the Association has needed to expand since 2006 with the statewideboom in population and high school construction. Playing within the confines of a four classification system is like trying to fit into your favorite pair of blue jeans that haven’t fit since high school.

There’s only so much that can be done to produce a sensible athletic program in North Carolina. It cannot be accomplished unless those with the power, changes the rules.

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