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High school sports reclassification on hold
GHSA puts off decision until May
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MACON - Plans to significantly alter the classification format for Georgia High School Association schools have been placed on hold for another month.

At the GHSA executive committee's meeting Monday at the Marriot Macon City Center, the reclassification committee presented to the executive committee the "4/8 plan" for a vote. However, because the plan is only at the conceptual stage - many details need to be ironed out before the plan is concrete - committee members were unable to make an educated vote, and a motion was made to move the vote to an executive committee meeting in mid-May. Date and location for the meeting have yet to be determined.

On Sunday, the reclassification committee voted 7-5 in favor of the 4/8 plan, which splits the state into four classifications that branch out to eight for the playoffs, producing eight state champions. The plan aims to reduce travel for schools in the more sparsely populated south. The other proposed plan called for six classifications and was aimed at dividing the state's largest classification, AAAAA, because of significant disparity between the smallest and largest schools in the classification.

By moving the meeting to May, the reclassification committee hopes to move forward with the 4/8 plan and finalize it, then make its details available to the executive committee, as well as coaches and school officials.

"This allows us more time," reclassification committee member Sam Barrs said. "We've been discussing this, planning and trying to gather ideas for (a new format) for six months. We've met two or three times just trying to look at things and see what's best for the state overall.

"Right now, a lot of people don't know enough about the plan. People don't like voting on concepts; they want to know exactly how it's going to affect their school."

However, reclassification committee members haven't ruled out re-opening the discussion to approach the executive committee in May with a proposal other than 4/8 plan.

As of Monday, there was still major divide amongst the reclassification committee despite its vote in favor of the 4/8 plan.

"The committee is still very split and we don't need that," said reclassification committee member David Hunter, architect of the six-classification plan. "We need something we all have a consensus on, so we'll keep looking. I'm opposed to the 4/8 plan."

Reclassification committee chairman Earl Etheridge, who designed the 4/8 plan, said he's open to altering his plan or going with a different one.

"We have to sit down and discuss and come up with the right answer for what's best for the north and south," he said. "I don't know if there is a good answer to satisfy both, but if we sit down for a month and a half and talk, we can come up with something that's good for everyone in the state of Georgia.

"I think we'll start off (fine-tuning) the 4/8 plan, but it could change. I'm for anything that could get a good plan out there where every school in the state is treated the same way."

The reclassification committee will present one proposal to the executive committee for a vote in May. If that plan receives majority vote from the 50 executive committee members, it will go into effect for the 2012-13 school year. If the plan does not receive enough votes, the current five-classification format, which has been in place since 2000, will remain in place through the 2013-14 school year.

Executive committee director Dr. Ralph Swearngin said a decision, one way or the other, will be finalized at the May meeting so that a plan is in place before this school year ends.