Coach: private schools not problem in Kansas sports classification, economic opportunity is

Aquinas coach argues for success modifier
Posted at 5:18 PM, Jan 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-27 23:21:31-05
Senior boys, some of them athletes in various sports, played a baseball game at the St. Thomas Aquinas gym.
Above them hung dozens of state championship banners, 96 of them in the less than 30-year history of the school, including cross country.
Matt Hallauer is an assistant coach in that sport at Aquinas.
"Aquinas is doing well because we have a lot of kids who come from great homes where parents have been supporting their kids for years," he said.
Paola High School Athletic Director Jeff Hines has a different take.
He believes private schools have a decided advantage over public schools when it comes to enrolling great athletes.
After sending out a survey last month to all the state's high schools, Hines reported the findings to the Kansas High School Activities Association Executive Board earlier this month.
The primary result from that survey found an overwhelming majority of schools responding to support some type of modifier for private schools to move up in sports class.
Currently, sports classifications for Kansas high schools are based only on enrollment.
Hines reported over a ten year period from 2004 to 2014, 37 percent of Kansas private schools won five state titles or more.
He believes private schools, especially in metro areas, have a decided advantage over their public counterparts.
"They can accept students in Kansas City's case, a metropolitan area of more than two million people," Hines said. "Paola has 5000." 
"I don't believe this is about competitive balance," Hallauer said. "I believe it's about getting rid of good schools that are taking championships away from other good public schools." 
Hallauer believes competitive balance has more to do with economic opportunity than private versus public.
In his own research, Hallauer notes from 2001 through 2013, 13 public schools won ten or more state titles.
They include Olathe East with 35, Blue Valley North with 33 and Shawnee Mission East with 30.
Most of the schools Hallauer cites are in the largest class, 6A, where there are currently no private schools.
But he also found successful public schools in smaller classes.
Hallauer shared his research and thoughts with Hines in an e-mail exchange.
He believes Aquinas for example, despite its 5A enrollment size, should move up to 6A, even though it would be tougher competition.
"I'm not worried about Aquinas moving up to 6A," Hallauer said. "What I don't like is if some great public schools also don't move up to 6A." 
In his research over the same 2001 to 2013 window, Hallauer also found 101 out of 327 public schools didn't win a single state title and another 64 won one.
His solution is to move both private and public schools up or down in class based on success of lack of it in each individual sport.
Enrollment size would not be the main factor in his plan.
"Anybody who is a competitor should appreciate competition," Hallauer said.
"The number one concern right now among Kansas schools right now is to address the private school issue," Hines said. "We address that and if more problems arise over time, we're going to address that as well." 
When the 41 Action News Investigators asked Hallauer if he was optimistic about some type of fair change for everyone in Kansas high school sports classification he said "no."
For there to be any type of success or private school modifier in Kansas, state law would have to be changed.
It states sports classes have to be based on enrollment only.
A proposal to change that law died in the Kansas legislature last year.






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