AHSAA issues reclassification, Lowndes schools protest

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, January 2, 2024

The Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) issued new classifications for 2024-25 and 2025-26 school years and fall sports alignments on Dec. 18. The approved system impacts both Lowndes County public high schools, and the school system has protested the decision.

According to Lowndes County Public Schools Athletic Director Nickles Rankins, the association’s current alignments reclassify both schools from Class 1A to 2A. The shift also splits the schools into separate regions, placing The Calhoun School into Region 3 and moving Central High School in Hayneville to Region 1.

“Right now we’re in protest because what they did was move both our schools back over to 2A and split them into different regions,” Rankins said. “They put Calhoun in Region 3, but they put Central in Region 1 with Mobile area schools. So, for each game that Central has to travel to, the closest game is an hour and 55 minutes away.”

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The AHSAA Central Board of Control voted unanimously to approve its current seven-classification system for championship play in the upcoming two-year school terms. The association manages championship play and classification, reclassifying member schools every two years based on Average Daily Membership figures supplied by the Alabama Department of Education for public schools grades 9-11.

The new classification lists 32 schools as Class 7A, 57 as Class 6A, 62 as 5A, 66 as 4A, 65 as 3A, 62 as 2A and 76 as 1. Alignments released for fall sports which recently completed championship play. 

Central Board of Control president Mike Welsh, Superintendent of Cherokee County Schools, praised the plan as the best decision for all member schools.

“This new classification and fall sport recommendations came after many hours of study and discussion,” Welsh said. “Everyone involved gave their valuable time to evaluate our classification system thoroughly and provided input in ways to improve that system.”

According to Rankins, if it stands the reclassification will present a financial hardship local schools simply cannot afford to bear.

“It makes no sense at all,” Rankins said. “We did send a letter to the AHSAA to protest the decision. We will wait for a response, but there is no way we will be able to bear the expense of that travel [to Region 1.] We can manage Region 3 for Central, but we simply cannot travel to Clark and Washington counties.”

The newly aligned regions impacting Lowndes County schools include:

  • Region 1 – Bayshore Christian School, Central; Chickasaw High School, Clarke County High School, J.U. Blacksher High School, St. Luke’s Episcopal School and Washington County High School; and
  • Region 3 – Barbour County High School, Calhoun, Goshen High School, Highland Home School, Luverne School, Pike Liberal Arts and Zion Chapel School.

The decision does not affect the schools’ current basketball season. Rankins said he expects AHSAA to issue reclassification lists for winter and spring sports later in the school year.

Also included on the list for the first time were classes for girls’ flag football as a championship sport. The Calhoun School, which fields a flag football team for the first time this fall, was aligned in Region 4 alongside Elmore County High School, Francis Marion School, Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School, and Selma High School.

The reclassification alignment data for each sport and the private school competitive balance chart can be found at the following link located at www.ahsaa.com. Reclassification by enrollment data is located on the homepage of the website.