Football classification changes approved by IHSAA for 2023-34

A football classification amendment approved by the Iowa High School Athletic Association’s (IHSAA) Board of Control and a December vote of member schools was approved Thursday, Jan. 12, by the Iowa State Board of Education.

The proposed amendment to the Articles of Incorporation will add a socioeconomic factor to football classifications starting in 2023-24, implementing a formula for free and reduced lunch percentages and school enrollments to determine new final classification numbers.

Members of the State Board of Education addressed the proposal in the final item of their monthly meeting and voted unanimously in favor of the amendment after lengthy discussion.

“We appreciate the State Board of Education’s diligence and careful consideration of the proposal our membership has asked us to implement,” IHSAA executive director Tom Keating said. “This classification model is an important first step in addressing competitive equity in the sport of football.”

The IHSAA was represented at the Grimes Building by Keating, Board of Control chairperson and Denison principal Dave Wiebers, and legal counsel Brian Humke. Through its articles and 28E agreement with the Iowa Department of Education, the IHSAA must submit policies, amendments, and information through the State Board of Education.

IHSAA staff responded to numerous state board inquiries ahead of the meeting regarding the proposal, which began through a recommendation of the IHSAA classification committee and received “yes” votes from 80 percent of voting schools in December.

The classification adjustment will reduce 40 percent of a school’s free or reduced lunch (FRL) count from their annual enrollment to determine their final classification number.

“The State Board recognized the historical competitive challenges, supported by the data our staff assembled, which some of our schools have experienced,” Keating said. “The Board acknowledged the support from our member schools in this issue.”

The IHSAA will move forward with an updated football redistricting process this offseason. This will include releasing updated BEDS (9-11) numbers and compiling available FRL percentages from the Iowa Department of Education, developing new district assignments, then new schedules for the two-year cycle.

North Tama Telegraph note: Decisions by the North Tama Board of Education in December to not move Redhawk varsity football from Class A/11-Player to 8-Player but to begin to transition JH/JV football to 8-Player by including at least two such away games in the 2023-24 season was set to be further discussed at the Monday, Jan. 16 school board meeting. The Telegraph will provide coverage of that discussion in next week’s edition.