TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) — Since 2016, a Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) proposal has been in the works to change how private schools are classified. If passed, the proposal would provide big changes to how high school athletes across Kansas compete.
The KSHSAA held a public hearing on the issue Wednesday and will vote on the proposal this September. Essentially, the more championships a private school wins in a certain period of time, the more its enrollment numbers are artificially boosted, which could put that school in a different league altogether.
“Private/public discussion is always gonna be talked about,” Jeremy Holaday, assistant executive director of the KSHSAA, said.
Holaday says the new proposal could level the playing field between Kansas private and public schools.
“The success factor is the first gatekeeping factor,” Holaday said.
Betty Arnold with the Kansas State Board of Education (KSBE) says the proposal stems from a small handful of schools consistently winning state titles — none of those schools are in Wichita or the Wichita area.
“Why force this new rule on the entire state when you’re basically talking about Kansas City?” Arnold said.
Arnold says she’s seen no evidence private school wins impact public school students opportunities to earn athletic scholarships.
“What is the basis of our concern other than we have a small number of schools that seem to be dominating?” Arnold said. “If that’s all that’s stake, then I’m wondering, how do we justify all of this effort?”
Kapaun Mt. Carmel Athletic Director Marty Straub says this proposal could hurt several smaller schools in our area.
“When you get into large participation sports like track and field, like wrestling, like soccer and football, it does become a game of numbers … why hold those schools accountable for the errors or sins of, of the folks up in the Kansas City area?” Straub said.
If the proposal passes, the state legislature must amend a statute during its next session. If the proposal fails, Straub says it’s back to square one. The proposal has been in the works since 2016.