CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia high schools will be able to play up in classification in individual sports beginning in the fall of 2020 in a new rule approved by the state Board of Education Wednesday.

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Bernie Dolan

The proposal, which came from the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission’s Board of Control, changes a policy that required a school to play all sports in a higher classification if the school chose to move up.

“Currently nobody has gone up under that (old) rule,” SSAC Executive Director Bernie Dolan told members of the state Board of Education Wednesday. “If you can go up as a single sport I think there will be people who will take that opportunity to move up to that next level to challenge their kids a little more without penalizing the whole school.”

The state School Board adopted the change on a unanimous vote. It also approved more than two dozen other policy changes. Most of those having to do with updating language for 9th graders playing sports.

The rule allowing to play up a class won’t go into effect until the 2020-2021 school year when the next round of classifications kick in. Schools will have to decide by April 2020, Dolan said.

The change will only impact postseason competition. Schools are currently allowed to compete against schools in other classifications in regular season play.

In its June meeting, the state school board members voted down a proposal from the Board of Control to make a separate class for sports for eight private schools. Dolan told the board Wednesday the SSAC’s competitive balance committee dealing with that topic has met once and is scheduled to meet again in September.

The SSAC’s Board of Control is made up of school principals and athletic directors.

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