Indiana’s new tournament success factor ‘punishes’ best small schools in soccer, says coach

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Providence girls celebrate winning last year’s Class A state championship, but how long before they’re moved up alevel?

The Indiana High School Athletic Association’s executive committee recently voted in favor of a “two-year tournament success factor” in each team sport, including soccer.

It involves an accumulation of points by which a school will move up a class based on tournament-series performance during that time.

On a sport-by-sport basis, schools will earn one point for a sectional championship, two points for a regional title, three points for a semi-state crown and four points for a state championship.

The maximum number of points a team can earn in a single year is four points. Should a school earn six points or more during a specified two-year period, it would compete in the next higher enrollment class for the ensuing two seasons.

Tournament success achieved during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years will be used to determine classifications in 2013-14.

While IHSAA Commissioner Bobby Cox believes the changes “will prove to enhance the team sport experience,” it’s difficult to see how it will benefit soccer in its current two-class format, introduced last year for the first time.

Take, for example, our area’s Class A girls’ state champs Providence HS, the most obvious team likely to be affected by the change locally.

Having already accumulated four points for last fall’s memorable triumph, the Lady Pioneers would only need to win this season’s regional championship to move up to Class 2A next year.

Providence girls’ varsity coach Dave Smith, who told Kick It he has mixed feelings regarding what he calls the new “performance penalty rule,” said they could then potentially face schools such as Carmel (with an enrollment of 4,591 based on the 2011-2012 school year)  — 10 times the size of the Pioneers (enrollment of 453).

“I seriously doubt the IHSAA had such pairings in mind when they voted this rule into effect,” said Smith. “Can you imagine such a thing in American football, pitting a school with 225 boys against a school with 2,700 boys? I doubt we would ever see such a game occur.”

The 2011 NSCAA Coach of the Year for Indiana (HS Girls Private/Parochial Schools) said he believes the rule was put in place largely due to the successes of a few small schools in the sports of football and basketball, which offer several tiers of classes based on enrollment.

“If someone like Henryville wins state in girls’ basketball and follows up with a regional win the next year — thus meeting the six-point requirement — they would then compete ‘up’ one class in the 2A bracket the following two years,” he said. “The key being that they would move from 1A to 2A within a four-class tournament.”

Regardless of the change, Smith said the team will play whomever they are assigned to play and will compete to their best ability.

“While the prospect of returning to the local sectional competition with Jeffersonville, Corydon, New Albany and Floyd Central would make for some interesting matchups — a la the system prior to the 2011 season — it also creates some additional potential challenges for us,” he said.

“I merely believe the IHSAA failed to consider the differences between sports when they passed this sweeping change that now affects all of us.”

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