The winds of change are blowing through Oregon's high school sports leagues.
At the latest meeting of the Oregon School Activities Association's Classification and Districting Committee on May 22, the committee shared that there is now "broad support" for continuing the state's current six-classification system. That said, there are still changes aplenty under consideration as the committee nears the end of its quadrennial rearrangement of the state's high school leagues.
In a posting from Executive Director Peter Weber and Assistant Executive Director Brad Garrett on the OSAA website following the meeting, the Classification and Districting Committee update said: "Considering the broad support for the six-classification system, the Committee used the cutoff points from Draft #15 as a foundation before applying any modifications."
Earlier — and also reinforcing the OSAA's intent to remain at six classifications — the update noted that the committee is "moving forward with establishing the cutoff points for the six-classification structure."
"As long as Lakeridge stays in 6A, I don't care who is in our conference as long as it stays competitive. But taking away (Tigard and Tualatin) would weaken the TRL, which has always been known as a very strong conference." — Lakeridge boys soccer coach Jason Bell
While the latest proposals from the OSAA have moved away from some of the earlier, more radical changes that had been contemplated — among them, shifting down to five classifications and/or creating a special football-only classification — they would still change things in important ways for Lake Oswego and Lakeridge high schools.
The Classification and Districting Committee is currently considering two six-classification proposals. Under the first, known as Draft #16, the enrollment cutoff point for a school to be included at the Class 6A level would be set at 1,195 students, a number that would increase the number of schools in the state's largest classification from its current total of 51 schools to 57 schools. Under this scenario, Lakeridge — with its student enrollment level of 1,126 — would choose to "play up" to remain at the 6A classification.
"The Committee continues to make efforts to create larger leagues at the 6A level and lowering the cutoff point to add schools is one method" to get there, the update reported.
This change would shrink the 5A classification to just 28 schools in four leagues from its current arrangement of 33 schools in five leagues.
The impact of Draft #16, if adopted, on the Three Rivers League would be this:
• The change would move both Clackamas and Oregon City back into the Three Rivers League; both were longtime league members until the OSAA shifted them to the Mt. Hood Conference for the 2014-15 school year.
• The change would also move three schools out of the Three Rivers League, with Tigard and Tualatin shifting into the Metro League, and Newberg rejoining a newly reconstituted Pacific Conference. The Pacific Conference, originally known as the Pac-7, was created for the 1994-95 school year and continued until disbanded by the OSAA following the 2012-13 school year.
• The other big change under this proposal would move Hermiston into the Mt. Hood Conference, and Bend-area schools Bend, Mt. View and Summit into the Greater Valley Conference.
Under the second proposal, known as Draft #17, the enrollment cutoff point for a school to be included at the Class 6A level would also be set at 1,195 students and result in 57 6A schools. Under this scenario, Lakeridge — with its student enrollment level of 1,126 — would choose to "play up" to remain at the 6A classification.
This draft incorporates the same cutoff numbers for Class 5A as well, though the 4A lower cutoff number has been moved from 366 to 351 which adds four more schools to the Class 4A level.
The impact of Draft #17, if adopted, on the Three Rivers League would be much more dramatic:
• The change would move Clackamas, Oregon City, Centennial, Central Catholic and David Douglas into the Three Rivers League; all five of those schools are currently members of the Mt. Hood Conference.
• The change would also move five schools out of the Three Rivers League, with Tigard and Tualatin shifting into the Metro League, Newberg and Sherwood rejoining a newly reconstituted Pacific Conference, and Canby heading to the Greater Valley Conference.
• The other big change under this proposal would move Hermiston and Bend-area schools Bend, Mt. View and Summit into the Mt. Hood Conference.
"That would be a powerhouse of a league. There are some big football teams there — it would be a very tough league to play in." — Lake Oswego football coach Steve Coury
That said, the Classification and Districting Committee isn't done with its work yet. The committee will meet again at 9 a.m. June 20 at the OSAA office, 25200 S.W. Parkway Ave. Ste. 1, in Wilsonville. Additional meetings are also set for 9 a.m. Aug. 28 and 9 a.m. Sept. 25, both at the OSAA's Wilsonville office.