Buford to face multiplier? GHSA to hear new reclass plan

Schools that get a significant number of their students from outside their district boundaries could find themselves competing in higher classifications beginning in 2014-15 if a proposal before the Georgia High School Association is passed next week.

The plan, submitted by Lovett, would affect private schools but also public city schools such as sports powers Buford, Gainesville, Cartersville and Calhoun. Also at risk of getting bumped in class are magnet, charter and open-enrollment schools that are more common in larger school systems such as Cobb, DeKalb, Atlanta, Bibb and Muscogee.

The chances of the proposal passing  is perhaps unlikely. GHSA executive director Ralph Swearngin calls it impractical to force every school to compile those statistics on their student bodies.

But the proposal remains significant in that a private school is willing to revisit a multiplier after  the public-private split in Class A this academic year. It also underscores the growing concern from private and public schools alike over a perceived competitive advantages by public schools that are not bound by their district lines.

City schools Buford, Gainesville and Jefferson won football state titles in 2012. Those schools allow students outside their districts to attend by application. Other city schools include Bremen, Carrollton, Commerce, Dalton, Decatur, Dublin, Marietta, Rome, Thomasville and Valdosta.

A similar plan is being debated this week in Ohio. One major difference there is that student-athletes are counted, not all students living outside the districts. (The Ohio plan explained.)

The GHSA puts its more than 400 member schools in six classifications based on enrollment.  What Lovett is proposing is a multiplier of 1.35 on every student (athlete or not) that does not live in the school district of a public school or the service area of a private school. In the case of a private school, a service area (county) is used instead of a school district boundary.

Lovett athletics director Steve Franks declined to comment on the objective or benefits of the proposal. “Since this proposal is now in the hands of the GHSA executive committee, I do not think it is appropriate for me to discuss this proposal or any issues related to it prior to the GHSA meeting,’’ Franks said.

It’s unclear how a multiplier of 1.35 that applies only to students outside the school zone would be very significant. A school of 1,000 students, 200 of them living outside the school zone, would count as 1,070 instead of 1,000. Such a small difference usually would not bump a school into a higher classification.

The GHSA used an enrollment multiplier of 1.5 for every student in a private school from 2000-01 through 2007-08.  Private schools won the battle to overturn and eliminate the multiplier, but the controversy over a level playing field has persisted. Small public schools threatened to leave the GHSA a year ago and forced the GHSA into separating public and private schools in Class A.

Since the multiplier could put his own school in a higher classification, Franks can’t be accused of taking aim only at successful public schools.

But at the GHSA, Swearngin isn’t sold.

‘’Every school would have to compute who lives in the district and who doesn’t,’’ Swearngin said, “and then we [the GHSA] are bound by the honor code – we either trust [the numbers] or we don’t. It just seems impractical in many ways.’’

The GHSA’s executive committee meets April 14-15 in Macon.

38 comments Add your comment

Jefferson

April 11th, 2013
8:24 am

Bring it on, things are not what everyone thinks everywhere.

W

April 11th, 2013
8:42 am

Just an observation, but if the 1.35 multiplier being proposed by Lovett was put in play, Lovett would not move classes. They would remain in AA if the classification cut off numbers remain the same, and if they don’t and get better, they definitely won’t move out of AA. I think the multiplier should come back, and also we should move back to 5 classes personally. Its takes some of the bigger private schools out of their present classifications and puts them in others. However, if you do the multiplier and move more schools out of A and into AA or AAA, would the problem really be “fixed” or would it just move to the classification where more private schools reside that year…?

skipper

April 11th, 2013
9:05 am

This all started when speaker Murphy years ago let the debate-team thing his niece, or granddaughter, or somebody was dealing with get bigger and bigger. There is probably no way to get this to an exact science. There is just too much room for honest error. Just try and field a better team, whydontcha?

John

April 11th, 2013
9:15 am

It is ironic that Bremen, who was the beneficiary of Tom Murphy’s private school multiplier rule, would be among the city school systems most seriously hurt by the Lovett proposal. Almost half of Bremen’s student body lives outside of the Bremen city limits. This might force them to play up to Class AAA–and they just moved up from Class A last year due to increased enrollment. There are a lot of county systems in northwest Georgia who also draw students from outside their districts.

Know it all

April 11th, 2013
9:27 am

Over 100 county school systems accept out of district students….. the multiplier would effect over 300 of the GHSA’s member schools….

[...] Read more here [...]

Bright Idea

April 11th, 2013
10:05 am

There is no perfect plan but wouldn’t you like to hear a little more leadership out of Swearngin? He always falls back on “it is up to the membership” or what CAN’T be done. This job needs a person that will at least take a stand and try to build a consensus.

BHS #1 Fan

April 11th, 2013
11:00 am

Why just not make the Class A, AA, AAA private schools compete amongst themselves in the sports that Class A has already split? That is where the majority of the private schools are classified. Seems there would have to be no multiplier then for anyone.

Jefferson

April 11th, 2013
11:15 am

Buford is the target of Lovett’s whine. County population density helps the most when the pool is large and the drive is short.

cvilleryder

April 11th, 2013
12:27 pm

Tell me if current format got approved would Lovett get the benefit of calling Fulton Co. its service area? If that’s the Case Franks shouldn’t get the benefit of the doubt about this affecting Lovett. I am a Cartersville grad and am not totally against this but little things like service area for the private schools needs to be cleaned up. While Buford gets a ton of athletes from outside Buford it probably would not bump them up while take Cartersville who sits at near the top of AAA couldn’t afford many. And frankly with about 4% of the total k-12 outside of the Cartersville service area attending Cartersville how much should we get punished?

Plato

April 11th, 2013
1:26 pm

Easiest way to solve the issue is to apply the old 1.5 multiplier. But expand it to include any public school that allows even a single athlete from beyond their zone. Gainesville has had the same perks as the private schools for years…yet they have never had to worry about the multiplier even though they were doing the same thing. Exact same deal for Cartersville and Buford.

Plato

April 11th, 2013
1:28 pm

Better yet just let such public and private schools for the “We cheat classifications” within the GHSA and let those that play by the rules have their own classifications.

big daddy

April 11th, 2013
2:25 pm

Skipper, this issue goes way back before some myth about a debate team losing to a private school debate team. I went to a single A public shool in late 80’s (pre multiplier rule), and we constantly played the GAC’s and Brookstones in several sports, doing well in football, baseball, and wrestling. Not so well in basketball and track. The GHSA is simply scared to do what is right here. everyone knows that the private schools and big city schools “push envelope” when it comes to “recruiing”. have the guts to deal with it.

HardHat

April 11th, 2013
6:40 pm

@bigdaddy that was no myth…imagine telling the schools he was going to block funding if GHSA did not fall into line. My question if a child plays 2 sports like in many city and private schools is he counted twice?
They don’t count students in 8th grade and below.

Elephant Man

April 12th, 2013
2:33 am

Considering Gainesville was in AAA for years and moved up to AAAAA this year. How do you justify a multiplier for them? Same thing with Buford, moved from AA to AAA. Again why is a multiplier needed? Both of these schools moved up in classification without a substantial growth in enrollment. I’m guessing some of you are upset because Buford or Gainesville beat you in recent years. Would you like for the GHSA to create classification AAAAAAA and place teams there based on how well they do in sports? Lovett’s multiplier is mathematically irrelevant, the 1.35x would not be enough to move these schools into higher classifications. Stop wasting the GHSA’s time. GHSA stop entertaining schools such as Lovett’s suggestions. They are just upset that none of their kids hoisted championship trophies and got rings.

W

April 12th, 2013
7:01 am

@Jefferson…it’s hard to really say “Buford is the target” of a school who no longer competes in the same region or classification as them anymore, in anything. If this was 11-12, that may have been a valid point.

BBB

April 12th, 2013
8:31 am

What needs to happen is, someone at the GHSA needs to grow some and just tell everyone that if you live in the school district you are districted for, then that is the school you attend, period. If you want to go to Buford, Gainesville, and so forth, then you move to that district, period.

ed

April 12th, 2013
8:33 am

bufords free ride is over

wolf

April 12th, 2013
8:44 am

ed- youre an idiot!

Johnny412

April 12th, 2013
8:56 am

About time. This is without a doubt a competitive advantage.

A Former Redan Fan

April 12th, 2013
9:01 am

Buford and GAC, the worst of the worst when it comes to recruiting. As a commenter above said, the GHSA should grow some and do an investigation of these two schools. Swearingen is just too weak a person to be the head of an organization this big and powerful. He never stands up and says anything meaningful. Folks, cheating is cheating and the AD’s of these schools that allow it should be fired, without delay……they’re not setting a good example for our young people to follow.

Jefferson

April 12th, 2013
9:04 am

So Lovett is never moving up to AAA ? W ?

Sugar Hill Dawg

April 12th, 2013
10:25 am

Everyone who follows high school athletics in Gwinnett knows Buford recruits or is the beneficiary of talented kids wanting to get exposure without having to move. I’m sure Norcross (BB primarily, but wouldn’t be too shocked to see FB as well) has had a ton of kids playing for them without having to live in the school’s attendance cluster. As a parent, my kids attended North Gwinnett because we live in the NGHS attendance cluster area. If I thought they’d have a better experience (academically, socially, etc.) by attending Buford, my kids would’ve been in the Buford programs. Everyone needs to get a grip = this issue will be with us for the foreseeable future. Let the kids compete and enjoy the HS experience.

Bwolves

April 12th, 2013
11:54 am

Ed, you’d better hope Buford doesn’t move up in classification again if your team is in Region AAAA. The 2 times Buford moved up in classification, they won that classification in their first year. Buford will be successful wherever they’re playing, then you’ll have to whine about something else.

Bwolves

April 12th, 2013
12:01 pm

A Former Redan Fan – Bring on your investigation. We still live in a free country, at least for the time being, and parents have the right to send their kids to a good school of their choice. What you and the uninformed haters don’t know is that the vast majority of tuition paying parents at Buford are enrolled during elementary and/or middle school. Come get you a tour of the School System and you’ll know Buford doesn’t have to recruit anybody or ask a tuition paying parent. You might learn something.

mdcain

April 12th, 2013
12:46 pm

That’s OK. Buford will beat the higher classifications also. Then you will have to find a new excuse for your mediocre programs.

Jefferson

April 12th, 2013
1:13 pm

People don’t hate winners, people hate chest beating fans and trash talking fans/sidewalk fans. Think what it does to the players and the program, it just sours the hard work put in by the players and coaches.

brick

April 12th, 2013
2:40 pm

Murphy’s issue wasn’t about the debate team, it was the condition of the softball field at Breman compared to the baseball field. Baseball team had a good booster club, beautiful complex and a great field, while his granddaughter played softball on basically a pasture with no facilities to dress, use restroom or anything else right there. He demanded that male and female teams have the same “extras” regardless of who supplied them or funding would be cut. So anything the baseball booster club wanted to do, they had to help fund the softball booster club improve the softball complex by the same margin.

But to the topic of this story, the city schools are recruiting, they know they are, everyone else knows they are and Plato is right, should just creat a class for them called something like, “we don’t care about fair play” and let them play each other, whoever can recruit the best wins the championship. Let the teams who use kids who grew up in the town/county/district have a chance to compete with others who play by the rules as they were intended, not by the rules that some over zealous booster has twisted .

Jefferson

April 12th, 2013
3:33 pm

If a city school player transfers in and lives in the city, he lives in the city. If he transfers in and does not live in district he sits out a year. It happens in county schools too, if they have a program that the players want to play for.

Advantages occur when lots of players live within driving distance, and the metro Atlanta area has lots of players. In some counties you could field an all star team and still not compete at the state level unless you have the right program, coaches and community but if you have population density, you are halfway home.

hoopcoch

April 12th, 2013
8:45 pm

Just go to ONE class only…but too many parents would not like that b/c not everybody gets a trophy then. You would have a TRUE state CHAMPION and a real sense of accomplishment on a level playing field. Most people (Buford, Calhoun, etc) dont really WANT a level playing field. I can say I would have been OK with this when I was still coaching.

B Town Wolves

April 13th, 2013
12:01 am

Ya’ll just be jealous.

nourstuff

April 15th, 2013
9:15 am

What irritates many is that schools located in high density population areas typically won’t admit that they have an unfair advantage, particularly in a sport like football where numbers are crucial for success at the highest level. Note I didn’t say they are breaking rules or using illegal tactics. For example, the typical Buford fan won’t acknowledge their program’s unfair advantage relative to a similar enrollment rural school. They’d rather spew about how hard their kids work, how well their community supports the program, how intelligent and effective their coaches are. These are all valid issues for long-term success, but they refuse to also acknowledge the obvious-without the advantage of access to a large talent pool they would not maintain success year after year. Instead, they’d rather beat their chests about how hard their boys work and by implication, that their competitors just don’t have what it takes. So sorry South Georgia, I guess you rural schools just don’t care enough according to the typical Buford supporter. If you say anything negative to them, you are just jealous or being a hater-so be quiet and have your boys/coaches get to work…

rizzo

April 15th, 2013
10:13 am

nourstuff, I think most typical Buford fans will wholeheartedly agree they have an advantage if you ask them off the websites. However, the other things are true as well. Only a few of us beat our chests on here, and they embarrass the rest of us.

nourstuff

April 15th, 2013
10:30 am

Understood rizzo, in my experience you are an atypical BU poster!

Jefferson

April 15th, 2013
1:17 pm

hoopcoach, if you have to play Buford every year, you have to level the field.

Paladin Death Dealer

April 16th, 2013
6:54 am

Most of these city schools have been able to “legally cheat” for years. It’s time the GHSA out an end to this and removes their competitive advantage. When you go out and recruit the best players (or secretly get the word to them through a booster member that you certainly admire a young mans talent to play the game of football, or bring them by the school to hear the $30000 sound system in the weight room, you are recruiting and using undue influence to get a kid to come to your school . If I was in a city school, I would be saying the same things the city schools people are saying on these blogs, minimizing the great advantage they have now. Deciding who from outside the district gets to come to the school and being able at the same time by policy to keep the numbers at the right place to play in the classification of their choice. No doubt the incredible success of the city schools can be traced to this “new era” of wholesale recruiting. They will tell you a truth when they say kids now look them and their programs up and want to come to their schools. BUT IT SAYS RIGHT HERE THAT YEARS AGO THEY OUTRIGHT RECRUITED AND CHEATED IN THEIR EARLIER YEARS TO GET THEIR PROGRAMS AND THE ATHLETES TO MOVE THEIR PROGRAM S TO WHERE THEY ARE NOW. IT IS MY HOPE WITH THIS ALL OUT ON THE TABLE NOW THAT DR. SWEARGIN AND THE GHSA WILL DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO REMOVE THIS COMPETITIVE EDGE THAT THESE CITY SCHOOLS NOW ENJOY THAT HAS BECOME SO OBVIOUS EVEN TO THE LEAST KNOWLEDGEABLE HIGH SCHOOL FAN THAT THEY WANT THESE ADVANTAGES ERASED AND THE PLAYING FIELDS LEVELED BACK UP. This is not to say that public schools are not also involved. Some of the State Champions have kids playing on their teams from counties 40-60 miles away just to have a chance at a gold ring and to have a greater chance to move on to the next level. It is our hope that the issue of playing for a school and giving an apartment address where your mail comes but you don’t really live there in the district will be extinguished. GAMING THE SYSTEM MUST BE ELIMINATED, because now the slogan out there is, “IF YOU’RE NOT CHEATING, YOU’RE NOT TRYING.” Overhaul the GHSA and let’s re-level the playing field. There are few who would claim it to be level today.

Paladin Death Dealer

April 16th, 2013
7:03 am

The good speaker Murphy had it right, his only problem is he had a dog in the fight. He was a powerful man and was in to something with the multiplier, only with his hometown city school of Bremen they enjoyed some benefits also. WHO WILL BE THE NEXT PERSON OF LEADERSHIP WHO WILL STAND UP AND GET THIS FIXED AND NOT WORRY ABOUT BEING SUED? BUY SOME SUING INSURANCE AND ENFORCE THE RULES.

Thomasville

April 18th, 2013
7:22 am

It silly to say Thomasville has an advantage. If you wanna play big time sports in town you go to Thomas County Central. Higher class and more eyes watching because of it. The schools with the advantage are private schools. We should follow tennessee’s lead and have a private school division. Call it A. Between AA, AAA and AAAA there are currently 12 schools. Move them all to A and let the public schools decide all the championships above A. This would level the playing field in almost all sports in the state.