FORT WAYNE – The majority of the public wanted it.
Most of the schools didnt.
As a result of a six-week study, the IHSAA announced Friday that it will retain the multi-class format for high school basketball.
While there still exists a segment of Hoosier citizens that would support a return to a single class basketball format for the Indiana High School Athletic Association and its membership, that same membership has once again demonstrated strong support for the current multiple class format, IHSAA commissioner Bobby Cox wrote in a report issued Friday.
The report could be the final blow to proponents of the single-class format, including Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, who introduced legislation last year that, if approved, would have required that the IHSAA reinstate single-class basketball. Instead, he attended 11 statewide town hall meetings with representatives of the IHSAA. The first of those meetings was at Northrop, where two-thirds of those in attendance voted for the single class system.
At the conclusion of the statewide meetings, 68.09 percent of those who voted chose the single class format.
Simultaneously, the IHSAA surveyed member schools principals, athletic administrators, boys and girls basketball coaches and players. Of more than 7,000 ballots cast, 71.60 percent said they preferred the multi-class system.
I figured thats the way it would go, Adams Central athletic director Rick Minnich said. I think I was in the majority with a lot of schools that are smaller; that the classes have made a lot more opportunities for small schools.
Weve heard the Milan story, but I think most of the smaller schools like to have an opportunity.
The boys basketball team from tiny Milan won the 1954 state title; a legendary moment from which the 1986 film Hoosiers was based.
Obviously growing up as a one-class basketball player, I was always in favor of one class, said Barak Coolman, boys basketball coach at 4A Northrop, but who played at Leo in 96, the last year of the single-class format. Its going to be hard to change back to where it was, and I dont think Indiana will ever be back, unfortunately, as much as I would like to see it.
The success that some teams have felt has been good, but unfortunately, I dont think class basketball accomplished its overall goal. A lot of the schools that werent winning before class basketball still arent. There have been some schools that have found a niche and success, but overall, how it affects Northrop, it doesnt affect us a terrible amount.
Added East Noble athletic director Reif Gilg: I came to Indiana (from Nebraska) long after the single class had ended. The single class must have made it very, very unique. From a football standpoint, and the numbers game, classes, I feel, are a necessity. With basketball, Im not so sure. It may have been a chance to bring some uniqueness.
I dont think its as easy as people think; that if you change to class basketball its going to be the mid-1970s again with five to 6,000 people at every game. I think a lot more things have changed during that time since the single class basketball; that may be wishful thinking. The power that be, Im sure, had their reasons.