Schuckman: Private schools take concerns with success factor to IHSA board

Posted: Apr. 23, 2014 3:07 am Updated: Jun. 4, 2014 3:31 am

Eric Orne considered it a longshot to think the Illinois High School Association Board of Directors would back track entirely and eliminate the success factor being implemented for athletic programs from non-boundaried schools.

But it doesn't hurt to try.

"We want the IHSA to hear from us and feel like we've addressed it and see if there is a different way they can approach the success factor," said Orne, the assistant athletic director at Quincy Notre Dame and the head coach of the girls basketball and softball programs. "We just have a lot concerns."

Tuesday, Orne and QND principal Mark McDowell were part of a contingent from four private schools that attended the IHSA board's monthly meeting in Bloomington and were on the agenda to discuss changes to the enrollment multiplier policy, which was amended in February to include a success advancement factor.

The amendment calls for private schools to move up in classification if they achieve certain levels on success.

For example, in girls basketball, a team that participates in the final four twice in a four-year period gets bumped up to a higher class.

Since QND has reached the final four each of the last four years -- the first two in Class 2A and the last two in Class 3A -- the Lady Raiders will be considered a Class 4A school for postseason purposes next year.

QND will be the smallest school in Class 4A, with an actual enrollment listed on the IHSA website of 391.

That's 1,000 fewer students than the next smallest Class 4A school, which is Chicago Amundsen with an enrollment of 1,422.

"We've adapted to the multiplier and we've adapted to changing enrollments," Orne said. "We just feel the success factor is a bit much. Right now, we want to understand why it is just for private schools and why it is so retroactive."

Orne felt the group, which included administrators from Chicago University, Decatur St. Teresa and Normal U-High, gave the IHSA board plenty of facts and figures to digest.

It included a comparison to Indiana, which has a "tradition factor" for both public and private schools.

However, the bump in classification is on a two-year cycle, not a four-year cycle like it will be in Illinois.

"Four seems excessive," Orne said.

So does penalizing future teams for the success of past teams. The implementation of the success factor is immediate, meaning successful programs will experience a bump in classification during the 2014-15 school year.

It gave schools no time to prepare or change schedules to make themselves more competitive against bigger enrollments.

"Maybe start the clock now," Orne said. "That's what we're hoping for."

The board seems receptive to discussing the idea.

Following the meeting, the IHSA released a statement saying the board "will ask for clarifications from the ad hoc committee that recommended recent changes to Policy 17 and plans to review and take action on them at a future meeting."

What the private schools hope that means is there be some consistency in the way new rules are implemented and they will be given ample time to adjust to any changes.

"We're trying to find some stable ground for our entire athletic program," Orne said.

That's not too much to ask for.


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