Too much success can be a bad thing for schools like Immaculate Conception, which would never have won the Class 2A title this fall had it advanced to the state semifinals twice during the previous fours years under the IHSA's new Success Advancement policy.
How many times have you heard this?
"The IHSA isn't about getting the best teams downstate. It's about geographic representation."
No you can add this codicil.
"The IHSA isn't about getting the best teams downstate. It's about geographic representation. And making sure teams don't win too much. Unless they're the right teams."
Lost Wednesday in the brouhaha over Homewood-Flossmoor's exile from the state girls basketball tournament was an even more damning move by the IHSA Board of Directors. The board approved a recommendation to amend Board Policy 17, specifically related to the non-boundaried school multiplier waiver.
The change, which take effect in the 2014-15 school year, establishes a point system to determine whether a school is eligible for a multiplier waiver, while also adding a Success Advancement step that will move schools who reach certain thresholds up in classification.
The formula, which is as arbitrary as the IHSA, seeks to penalize non-boundary (read: private) schools that have a little too much success in state tournaments. Win a regional? Get a point. Win a sectional? Get two points. Earn four points in four years? Loser your waiver eligibility.
Qualify for the state finals once in four years? Lose your eligibility for a waiver.
Qualify for the state finals twice in four years? Move up a class.
St. Francis volleyball, say "Hello Molly" to Class 4A (Somewhere, an "Angel" is smiling).
Keith Country Day? "I-man up" and say hello to Class 2A.
Incidentally, if the Success Advancement step applied to boundaried schools as well, Deer Creek-Mackinaw would be forced to play in 3A next year after making back-to-back appearances in the Class 2A state volleyball championship match.
But of course, that's not going to happen.
New Trier would be playing in Class 5A. Wait, there is no Class 5A in volleyball. At least, not now there isn't.
Imagine this volleyball scenario....St. Francis moves up to Class 4A. Benet or Plainfield North or Naperville North or somebody else gets in the way for a couple of years. The Spartans go nowhere (OK, it's a dream, but stay with me).
Meanwhile, Joliet Catholic, free from St. Francis, starts tearing up 3A. After a couple years, they go up. Meanwhile, St. Francis comes down. JCA then starts running into McAuley, Marist or Sandburg (oh, my). St. Francis, meanwhile, goes back to dominating 3A.
St. Francis, up. JCA, down. JCA, up. St. Francis, down. How many years of that do you think the IHSA will stand before they come up with another rule?
The Success Advancement step in football is even more damning. You may as well call it the "Montini Amendment." Or if that other school was still around, you could call it the "Driscoll Declaration."
If you participated in two championship games over the last four years, you move up a class. Beginning in 2015, if you participated in three championship games in four years, you move up two classes. Then in 2016, if you participated in four championship games in four years, you move up three classes.
I can't wait for that Montini vs. Mt. Carmel Class 8A final!
Reaction around the state has been swift.
Here are some samples from one of my favorite sports forums monitored by the Peoria Journal Star.
"It's very sad but it's obvious the point of the change was to punish the private schools who have had some success at the state level recently, to the advantage of public HS's. The Rochester FB Coach is on the record as saying last June that he had heard from his sources it was a done deal. Therefore (IHSA executive director Marty) Hickman's committee was a rubber stamp."
"Multiplier is fine. This is stupid just separate the public and private school playoffs and have done with it."
"Once you get the privates out of your way, the people pushing this stuff will then turn their focus to public schools that are consistent winners like Rochester in football. If you think they are going to anymore satisfied losing every year to the same public school, you are going to sadly disappointed. Right now they have a private school boogey man they can blame for their lack of success. Once that is gone, it won't take them long to find another scapegoat."
"Is there another organization you can think of that has different rules for different members? I feel they have lost sight of their real responsibility which is maintain a structure for competition between members and have become an agency more concerned with handicapping those who are successful. If it keeps up pretty soon the fastest sprinters in the race will be required to wear weighted vests so that those who don't work as hard or have as much natural talent will have a chance to win!"
"I think it's time for the IHSA to go away. For at least the last 7-10 years, they've been more of a hinderance to HS sports in the state than a help. If the IHSA wants to manage a recreation sports league for the state, fine. But that's not what most competitive HS's need or want in a sports league."
And my favorite...
"Canada 3 USA 2....So....we need to start "success taxing" Canada now?"
In case you want to write your "congressman," the committee members who recommended the new rule were: Brian Brooks, Principal, St. Joseph-Ogden; Jim Dunnan, Principal, Washington; Pat Elder, Athletic Director/Football Coach, Richmond-Burton; Jeff Faulkenberg, Athletic Director, Triad; Mark Grounds, Football Coach, Jacksonville; Mark Kuehl, Principal, Lena-Winslow; Becky Moran, Athletic Director, Zion-Benton; Randy Moss, Athletic Director, Monticello; Mike Pappocia, Athletic Director/Football Coach, Newman Central Catholic; Jim Prunty, Athletic Director, St. Ignatius; Jim Quaid, Principal, Gordon Tech; Eric Regez, Baseball Coach, Herscher; David Ribbens, Athletic Director, Chicago University; Ken Turner, Football Coach, Belleville Althoff Catholic; and Lisa Wunar, Athletic Director, Hillcrest.
Benedictine University will host a Spring Break Volleyball Camp for boys and girls in grades K-8 from March 31-April 3. The cost is $65. For more information, contact Benedictine University head volleyball coach Jen Wildes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Naperville North is looking for a freshman boys team to join its tournament on Saturday, May 17. Each team will be guaranteed five matches. Email Naperville North head coach Nate Bornancin at email@example.com if interested.