The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK


January 14, 2014

Complete split in 6A not a slam dunk

ENID, Okla. — Putnam City School athletics director Dick Balenseifen is scheduled to present a case to split Class 6A in all sports at Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association’s regular meeting today, but the suggestion doesn’t receive unanimous support from its potential beneficiaries.

The proposal, which won’t be voted on today, would broaden the reach to all sports as an upcoming split of 6A football into two 16-team divisions — each with its own state champion — based on enrollment, will do starting in 2014.  That would put Enid in 6A-Division II for all sports — a potential advantage —  but two coaches from the school weren’t sure the move is necessary outside of football.

“Football being such a numbers game, I don’t see it as critical as in that sport,” said Enid baseball coach and athletic director Bill Mayberry, who is against a complete split of 6A.

 “In other sports, the discrepancies that happen in football, just don’t happen.”

The crux of the initial dispute, that Broken Arrow’s state-high 4,680.25 in average daily membership (ADM) is too wide a gap between it and Claremore’s 1,246.06, current 6A’s lowest, was most prevalently felt on the football field. Last season, top schools Broken Arrow and Tulsa Union boasted rosters of 115 and 130, respectively, compared to Enid’s maximum dressed of 80.

Enid, by ADM, has 6A’s 18th-largest enrollment, but Enid girls basketball coach Robb Mills wasn’t certain that was a substantial enough disadvantage to relegate his team to a proposed lower division.

“I don’t know how I really feel about it,” said Mills, whose team has been eliminated from the postseason by Mustang (sixth in ADM) and Bartlesville (19th) the last two seasons. “Obviously football was a big push for it, because football is a numbers sport ... When you have more students to pick from, obviously that makes a difference for a team, but we're lower (in enrollment), and year-in, year-out we have good talent here in Enid.”

Numbers apparently have been good to 6A’s top half, with Balenseifen’s presentation expected to center around his claim that approximately 87 percent of 6A championships have been won by the top 16 teams by enrollment over the last 16 years.

But splitting 6A completely likely will meet similar concern as a football split did, mainly that the move would create a watered-down tournament and a less-fulfilling championship.

“If you’re the better of 32 teams, it means a lot,” Mills said. “I don't know if that means less if it’s 16.”

Balenseifen oversees two schools that would be in the lower portion of the top 16 in Putnam City North (14th) and Putnam City (16th), and one in the lower half in Putnam City West (23rd). Enid, even with a split, likely will be in the top 16 within two seasons based on enrollment projections, perhaps replacing Putnam City.

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