Just when we thought we had it figured out, the MSHSAA threw another curve ball by passing the 1.35 multiplier.
What is it?
Well, to make a long story short, private schools are forced to increase their enrollment by 35 percent in order to try to level the playing field in high school athletics.
How does that affect everybody else?
By doing so, most private schools are knocked up a classification, which in turn will knock a few public schools down a class.
The enrollment adjustment factor will go into effect on July 1 and will be used for classification for the 2002-03 and 2003-04 enrollment cycle for every activity except football. Since football districts have already been assigned for the next two-year cycle, the multiplier will be used for football, beginning with the 2004-05 and 2005-06 period. One of those schools moving down a class is Sikeston.
Prior to the new rule, Sikeston basketball would have competed in a Class 5A district with schools such as Cape Central, Poplar Bluff, Jackson and Farmington.
With an enrollment of 1,095 students, Sikeston was among the smallest schools in Class 5A.
Under the new guidelines Sikeston will be the fifth largest 4A school in the state. The Bulldogs will now most likely compete in a district with Dexter, Perryville, Fredericktown and Notre Dame, which saw its enrollment swell from 444 to 600 students with the 1.35 rule.
What? New Madrid County Central won't compete in the 4A district?
Under the standard enrollment breaks, NMCC would have been the last team in Class 4A, but they tied with Missouri Military Academy with an enrollment of 540. Under the guidelines, a tie would automatically move both schools down a class.
So the Eagles will be the largest 3A school in the state and will compete in one of two districts, which haven't been assigned yet. One of the districts would be in the south which would include teams like Doniphan, Kennett, Caruthersville, Portageville and Twin Rivers.
The north district would consist of teams like Charleston, Bloomfield, Kelly, Woodland, Scott City and East Prairie.
I'm no mind-reader, but I'm willing to bet NMCC would rather stay north. But that's up to MSHSAA to decide.
So what does all this nonsense mean? Basically the public schools are laughing while the private schools are crying.
Notre Dame girls basketball coach Jerry Grim went as far to say, "It's stupid." And Notre Dame athletic director Chris Janet called it a "drastic measure."
Remember Pembroke Hill and Cardinal Ritter, the two dominant teams of the mid to late '90s that shattered many small town dreams with alleged recruiting? Both will now compete in Class 3A.
Public schools now think they will have a better chance of competing. Private schools, many of which claim don't recruit, now say they will have to recruit to stay competitive.
Others say private schools will start recruiting because now they're paying for it.
But I can see where people wanted something done.
Of the 61 team titles awarded by MSHSAA this past year, private schools claimed 24, or 39.3 percent, despite accounting for only 12.4 percent of the MSHSAA membership. Personally, I wasn't in favor of any rules changes. In fact, I wasn't in favor of the realignment where an extra class was added in football and basketball.
I think it waters down an already watered down playoff system.
But what's done is done.
Who knows? If the 1.35 ledger was passed a few years ago, instead of falling to Jefferson City Helias, maybe Sikeston could've won a state baseball championship last year.