The UIL is looking at expanding its classifications to create a competitive balance, Deputy Director Jamey Harrison said on Sunday at the Texas High School Coaches Association Coaching Convention.
Harrison said any move to expand likely wouldn’t happen until either the 2024-2026 or 2026-2028 realignment windows. Yet, it was possibly the biggest piece of news that the UIL talked about during their roughly 40-minute press conference on Sunday, likely because it hadn’t been a thought since the UIL expanded to six classifications at the 2014-2016 realignment. The governing body of extracurriculars at public schools in Texas also talked about the benefits of the planning for the pandemic seasons in the 2020-2021 school year, the addition of water polo as a UIL sport and the recent passage of Name, Image and Likeness bills across the country, including in Texas.
“I think the 7A conversation is becoming more and more real,” Harrison said. “How quickly that will happen, we will see.”
As of the 2020-2022 enrollment figures to determine UIL classification, which will change for the upcoming 2022-2024 window, Class 6A is for schools with enrollment of 2,220 students or more.
The problem in Harrison’s eyes is that so many new schools are being built and quickly going into the top two classifications of the UIL. Texas grew by 373,965 residents in 2020, according to US Census Bureau projections.
That means new schools need to be built in metro areas such as Alvin Shadow Creek (est. 2016) and Conroe Grand Oaks (est. 2018) in the Greater Houston Area to add to the amount of 6A schools with Shadow Creek jumping from 5A to 6A at the 2020-2022 window. Comal Davenport and Lake Belton (est. 2020) are currently 4A schools that are playing district schedules for every sport except football. Heck, Katy ISD just outside of Houston has 10 high school campuses and nine of them play sports at the 5A level or above.
In turn, those new schools can inflate the enrollment number for 4A schools and create a competitive imbalance. Creating Class 7A would, in theory, balance out the classifications. Look at Corpus Christi Calallen, who dropped from 5A to 4A at the 2020-2022 realignment. They had been dominating most sports at the 5A level before having to drop down a classification. They had a stellar year all around in 4A and are poised for another one in 2021-2022.
“Not many people build a brand new school and say, ‘We’re gonna have a 2A high school over here,’” Harrison said. “They’re all 5A or 6A. They might start off as 4A, but in a very short order they’re going to grow to be 5A or 6A.”
This potential change likely will not influence any area teams outside of an ancillary way. Maybe a team that should be 5A will go back up from 4A. Who knows.
Talking to a couple of coaching friends in the lower classifications, they’re not necessarily worried about the seemingly impending change.
But it would make for a better story if any local teams were to beat a 7A in a game. That would make for a really fun headline.
Texas keeps on growing and we have to keep up.
By the way, we are working hard to get our 2021 Fall Sports Preview ready. With fall sports like football and volleyball set to start their fall camps in less than two weeks, expect to see our cover released in the coming days.
Trust me, it’s good.