The proposal for four classes in basketball from the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission took another step forward Wednesday.

State Board of Education members voted 7-1 to put the proposal up for public comment for 30 days at Berkeley Springs High School.

The public comment period will begin later this week, while the BOE will vote in July on whether or not to pass the proposal, which would be a two-year test run for basketball only starting in 2021.

“The state Board of Education will look at the comments and go ahead and vote whether or not to accept it or reject it,” said Bernie Dolan, WVSSAC Executive Director. “Outside of the Board of Control (meeting back on April 2), this is the next big step. At this level, anybody has the opportunity to file comment on it for or against.”

Through the proposal, which was formed by the Competitive Balance Committee, each school would have a score from 1-100 that weighs several factors: Seventy percent from enrollment, 20 percent from location [to a city or county seat] and 10 percent is a combination of the economics of the county and students enrolled.

“Truly what we tried to do and what we think we did was come up with the fairest system for the majority of all the schools,” Herbert Hoover principal Mike Kellley said.

Board member Debra Sullivan wasn’t in agreement. Sullivan was the only one to vote against the proposal being put up for public comment.

“I’m not sure what people think is the actual case,” Sullivan said. “In the past ten years, fifty-seven percent of [Class] A schools appeared in state tournaments. Fifty-nine percent of Double-A schools appeared in state boys basketball tournaments and sixty-two percent of Triple-A schools.

“I can’t agree that the system is broken.”

For the most part, however, private schools have dominated the hardwood in Class A.

Saint Joseph Central’s girls basketball team has won nine of the last 11 state titles. Fifteen of the last 18 champions in boys basketball are private schools, including a stretch from 2002-2012 where a private school won the title 11 straight seasons. 

Wheeling Central’s boys basketball program has won eight Class A titles since 2002.

“We’re not helping our young people when we tell them that you can’t compete for whatever reason,” Sullivan said. “Life is not going to be fair in anybody’s mind.”

Dolan, however, believes the proposal would create more parity.

“We think it’s fairest to the greatest majority,” Dolan said. “No matter what system we come up with, somebody will be on the bottom end. With this, we took a lot of time trying to come up with the factors for success.” 

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