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BC opts to stay in division with smaller schools

This past week, Boulder City was one of two athletic programs in Clark County facing a promotion to the larger Division I at the end of the school year in June. It is a division where most of the Eagles’ athletic teams would struggle to find success against the larger schools.

The move was not mandatory, though, so Boulder City administrators, for now, replied to the NIAA, the state’s governing body, and the Clark County School District with a polite, “No, thanks.”

For at least another two school years Boulder City will remain in Division I-A while the Southern Nevada alignments are reviewed.

Even though nothing is going up, it appears something is coming down.

As many as four Division I teams could have new homes for their sports teams by August in direct competition with Boulder City in Division I-A.

The NIAA’s Southern Nevada Realignment Committee voted Feb. 27 to approve having as many as two teams from each of the Division I Sunset and Sunrise regions move to Division I-A for the start of the 2014-15 school year.

“As far as how this will impact Boulder City, I can only say that we don’t really know,” Boulder City principal Kent Roberts said. “We’ve done really well in the new alignment in I-A so far, but obviously adding four more teams means more competition.

“I try to keep in mind the big picture, which is that they want more schools to field competitive teams and get more students involved in sports at all schools. I support that idea and those efforts. On the other hand, I’m concerned about adding even more large schools to our division as these schools obviously have a built-in advantage in terms of numbers of students.”

The committee will forward their recommendation to the NIAA’s Board of Control in late March for approval. It is expected to pass.

“It gives us some options,” said Chaparral principal Dave Wilson, the committee chairman and one of the authors of the original rubric. “Things have gone very well to this point. Participation numbers are up at our school and others.”

The realignment, first applied before the 2012-13 season, was based on the Nevada Rubric, which awards schools points based on their finish in each sport.

Since 2012-13, every two years schools could shift divisions within their region or could move from Division I to Division I-A or vice versa based on points.

Teams are scheduled to be realigned for the beginning of next school year in August.

Under the rubric’s original language, Division I-A schools with 150 or more points in the two-year span of 2012-13 and 2013-14 would move to Division I.

Officials from Faith Lutheran, which has more than doubled the 150-point count, and Boulder City, which reached that amount this past week when its flag football team reached the Sunrise Region final and its girls basketball team reach the state championship game, both opted to stay in the smaller division even though they qualified to move up to Division I.

Original class 3A members Boulder City and Faith Lutheran will be joined by Moapa Valley and Virgin Valley, which also were given the option to stay in Division I-A based on their lower enrollment.

The motion was passed that four Division I schools that have fewer than 15 points would move down to Division I-A. As of this week, five Division I schools have fewer than 15 points and, eventually four of them, will be headed into the I-A region to become opponents for Boulder City.

Desert Oasis has 11 points, Spring Valley nine and Sierra Vista six through the first five semesters. Rancho has 11 and Del Sol has no points in the Sunrise Region.

“We’ve got some Division I schools that are suffering,” Clark County School District Executive Athletic Director Ray Mathis said. “They’re going to end up losing programs. I don’t see them surviving unless we throw them a lifeline.”

NIAA Southern Nevada Coordinator Bob Northridge (former athletic director at Boulder City) recommended that the two Division I schools in each region with the fewest points, provided that number is fewer than 15, move to Division I-A for next season.

Northridge argued that taking two teams from each region would leave a balanced number of teams in Division I and would give the committee more time to evaluate the entire rubric process while still helping programs.

If a total of four teams are moved, it would leave 10 teams in both the Sunset and Sunrise regions in Division I, likely creating two five-team leagues in each region. The Division I-A schools would number eight in the Sunset League and nine in the Sunrise League, opening the possibility for each Division I-A league to split into two divisions.

“The good news is that if the NIAA decides to implement this change it will be revisited in two years,” Roberts said. “I’m really proud of our athletic programs. I think our coaches have done an excellent job of getting our student-athletes ready for the challenge of playing the bigger schools. The results speak for themselves.”

The Las Vegas Review-Journal contributed to this article.

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