Conferences will get a new look starting with the 2016 cycle.
A proposal to undo the blended 7A/6A conferences for football season passed 163-21 during Wednesday’s meeting of the governing body of the Arkansas Activities Association. However, there will still be some mixing going on in the other sports.
The 7A and 6A will each put up two eight-team conferences in football with just the top four teams from each conference advancing to the playoffs. As an added bonus, the teams will only face opponents from within their own conference during league play.
Currently, 7A and 6A teams are blended into the same conferences and go their own way during the playoffs. However, it affords teams with losing records to sometime reach the playoffs. The other classifications (5A, 4A, 3A and 2A) will continue to follow the same structure as they currently do.
Under the current numbers Van Buren will still be considered Class 7A, whereas Alma will be Class 6A. However, during the 2014-2016 cycle Van Buren and Alma will face each other in conference play (Central).
The next format will resemble the classifications before it became blended during the 2010-2012 reclassification cycle. That put Van Buren in the 7A West, but that was before Heritage entered the stage. With new high schools being built or planned in Northwest Arkansas and in the Fort Smith area, that could impact where the Pointers end up, again.
The 7A will stay within the conference for the other sports, while the other classifications will form districts based upon geographical location. These blended districts will only be during district play and will divide teams into their respective classifications for post-season play.
Essentially, it’s doing the thing that has caused issues for the Class 7A and 6A and subjecting it to the lower classifications.
These blended districts will be 6A and 5A, 4A and 3A, in addition to 2A and 1A. The schools within those classifications may face a school of another classification for conference play, but will have a separate playoff for just their classification.
The sports for the blended districts will be basketball, baseball and softball. All districts will have no less than seven teams, but no more than 10. Each district will have a double round-robin conference schedule.
Coaches will then meet to seed teams within their respective conference for the conference tournament. How that process will take place wasn’t revealed during Wednesday’s meeting. Class 6A and 5A schools will advance the top four teams from the conference tournament to the state tournament.
Class 1A to 4A will advance their respective top four teams from the conference tournament to a regional tournament.
The impact for the other Crawford County schools may be minimal. However, it could put Mountainburg and Mulberry in the same district.
Other proposals passed included the allowance of preliminary sets for volleyball tournaments to determine seeding up to six teams, but no more than 10 total 25-point sets in preliminary play. (Passed 129-2)
Another proposal would give more money to schools based upon football finals attendance, rather than preliminary rounds gate receipts. This is to encourage schools promote and sell tickets for the finals. Schools will now get 80 percent of presale tickets and the AAA will get 20 percent. Member schools will earn 40 percent of the walk-up ticket sales and 20 percent to the AAA.
JEREMY MUCK CONTRIBUTED TO THIS REPORT.