NYSPHSAA considering 6th football classification

Niskayuna and Troy players line up to start a play during a football game Friday, Oct. 16, 2015, in Niskayuna. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)Niskayuna and Troy players line up to start a play during a football game Friday, Oct. 16, 2015, in Niskayuna. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

BY MICHAEL KELLY
Gazette Sportswriter

— A major change for high school football could come to pass Thursday when the Executive Committee of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association is set to meet.

At an early-morning meeting in Troy, one of the issues the committee is scheduled to vote upon is the creation of a sixth classification for high school football, a “Class AAA” that will house the state’s largest schools.

However, NYSPHSAA Executive Director Robert Zayas said the vote could be tabled at Thursday’s meeting. Twice already this year, he said, the football committee has been asked to reconsider its proposal for next year.

“But something needs to be decided by our January meeting,” said Zayas, so that schedules and preparations could begin to be made in full for the 2016 season.

The committee’s January meeting will take place Jan. 29.

Currently, the 431 schools competing in high school football in New York are broken down into five classes, with the largest schools in Class AA and the smallest in Class D. Gary VanDerzee, NYSPHSAA’s football coordinator and the head coach at Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk, said his committee’s third proposal is the first to seek a sixth classification.

Every two years, VanDerzee said, the state football committee has changed its classification cutoff numbers to get roughly 20 percent of competing schools into each classification. However, he said, this latest proposal puts roughly 17 percent of competing schools into each classification and could offer more competitive parity.

“This is, by far, the most balanced of the three proposals,” VanDerzee said.

The proposal to add a Class AAA would make the basement for the largest class a Basic Educational Data System (BEDS) number of 1,100 students; at present, Class AA’s floor is 930.

Using this year’s BEDS numbers, such a change would remove Ballston Spa, Columbia and Niskayuna from the largest class within Section II. (Niskayuna, however, has played an independent Class A schedule in 2015.)

Down the line, other schools would be affected if a sixth classification is created, as cutoff numbers will change for the rest of the classifications, too.

Other items set to be voted upon Thursday include upping the maximum number of games for hockey schedules from 20 to 22, and awarding the 2017-19 state championship sites for track and field, girls’ golf and basketball.

About the Author

Michael Kelly
Michael Kelly is a sports reporter for Your Clifton Park and Your Niskayuna, weekly print publications of The Daily Gazette. Kelly grew up in Clifton Park and graduated from Shenendehowa High School in 2006. He is also a 2010 graduate of the Stony Brook University School of Journalism. Kelly's work has been honored by the New York News Publishers Association, the New York State Associated Press Association, and the Associated Press Sports Editors. His work has previously been featured in The (Amsterdam) Recorder, The Saratogian, and Albany Times Union.