NMAA votes no to conferences, sets new class lines

Changes will take effect for the 2018-19 school year

Karl Schneider
Farmington Daily Times
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  • Farmington and Piedra Vista will compete in 5A, the state's largest classification for all non-football sports.
  • Aztec, Bloomfield, Kirtland Central and Shiprock will be in the new 4A.
  • PV's football team could find itself playing in 6A, the highest football classification.
  • Navajo Prep will move back to 3A.

FARMINGTON — The New Mexico Activities Association board of directors voted to keep its current format of breaking classes down by districts rather than moving to conferences during a meeting today.

The decision will keep the district format in place through the 2019-20 school year.

While the vote to keep districts around was the biggest issue on the agenda, the NMAA did approve several other moves that will change high school sports in New Mexico.

With the move to five classifications — except for football, which will have seven classes — beginning in the 2018-19 school year, the NMAA redrew the enrollment lines by which schools will be classified. For all sports other than football, schools with 1,300-plus students will compete in 5A. 4A will consist of schools with enrollments of 550-1,299 students, 3A will be 235-549 students, 2A will be 100-234 students and 1A will consist of schools with few than 100 students.

In football, the threshold to compete in 6A initially was set at 1,600 students but was dropped to 1,450. 5A will be for schools with 1,000-1,449 students, 4A is set at 550-999 students, 3A will be schools with 235-549 students and 2A will be 130-234 students. Schools with 100-129 students can compete in eight- or 11-man divisions, and schools with 100 or few students can play six-, eight- or 11-man.

Classification and district realignment will be set in the fall. To place schools in their proper classification, the NMAA must wait until it has the 40-day enrollment numbers for the 2017-18 school year. The 40-day enrollment numbers are included in the three-year averages and will be available in October.

Based on past enrollment numbers, for sports other than football, Farmington and Piedra Vista will compete in 5A — the largest classification. Aztec, Bloomfield, Kirtland Central and Shiprock will all be in 4A. Navajo Prep will land in 3A, and Northwest will be in 2A. Newcomb could find itself in either 3A or 2A.

The football landscape could be a little more complicated.

Typically, Aztec's enrollment is a little less than 1,000 students, and an uptick could place the Tigers in 5A. But Aztec athletic director Bryan Sanders said the school's enrollment has stayed steady in the high 900s, maybe even dropping slightly, and he doesn't foresee the school's average enrollment cracking the 1,000-student threshold.

Farmington and Piedra Vista are in similar situations. Both schools' three-year average enrollment grew from 2013 to 2015, cracking 1,400 students in 2015's three-year average.

PV appears to be closer to the 6A threshold than the Scorps.

Frank Whalen, the athletic director for Farmington Municipal Schools, said PV is close to having an average enrollment of 1,450 students, and the football program's placement in 6A or 5A could come down to the size of the incoming freshman class, whose numbers would be reflected in the 2017-18 school year's 40-day enrollment count.

Another change taking place for the 2018-19 school year is the baseball and basketball state tournaments cutting four teams from the brackets, going from 16-team fields to 12 teams.

The board also voted on eliminating district tournaments for basketball and volleyball. The vote did not pass, and district tourneys will remain through the 2019-20 school year.

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.