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Legal Ruling Finalizes Conference Alignment

By Richard White

Recently, a Pulaski County judge denied an injunction against the Arkansas Activities Association (AAA) that would have kept Bryant High School from competing in a different athletic conference for the 2014-16 classification cycle. The move is significant for Greenwood because Bryant has now been confirmed as a member of the 7A/6A Central.

Because of the decision, Bryant joins Alma, Conway, Little Rock Catholic, Little Rock’s Mount St. Mary’s Academy, Russellville, Siloam Springs, Van Buren, and Greenwood in the Central. Fort Smith’s Northside and Southside high schools are moving to the 7A-West, which now becomes an all-7A conference with Siloam Springs leaving.

This decision and the changes made earlier by the AAA will also affect how teams make the postseason. In the future, the confusing power ratings system will no longer be used in 7A and 6A. Also, Class 6A will now only take the top 12 teams in playoff sports (football, volleyball, basketball, soccer, baseball, softball) instead of all 16 teams as in the recent past.

In the blended 7A/6A conferences, such as the Central, the only games that will count toward the postseason are games against teams in the same classification — 7A vs. 7A or 6A vs. 6A. In the 7A West, six teams will quality for the postseason, while the Central and East will qualify three teams each. In 6A, the South will get six playoff teams while the Central and East, just like in 7A, will take three teams as well.

For Van Buren, it means competing against Bryant, Conway and Catholic/Mount St. Mary’s for three 7A-Central spots. Greenwood and Alma will compete against Russellville and Siloam Springs for the three 6A-Central postseason spots. For most teams in the 7A/6A Central, it will mean fewer long road trips.

“I’m excited because it’s a lot less travel,” said Lady Bulldogs’ head basketball coach Clay Reeves. “It will be a great conference, and we’ve had great conferences every year since I’ve been here — some of the best in the state. This will just be closer. We’ve had a couple of long trips the last couple of years. This will be great for the fan support because of less travel with Van Buren, Alma, Siloam Springs and Russellville. That’s all good.”

Reeves was also pleased to see the power rating system go away. “Everybody knows what teams are usually the best,” he said, “but with the points system there were teams rated better than you that you know aren’t [better], and some teams rated below you that you know are better. The ratings just weren’t right because teams weren’t even in the same conference.”

 

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