Written by Corbett Smith
UIL plans to release enrollment cutoff numbers in November; new Class 6A part of biennial alignment
The University Interscholastic League’s biennial alignment process isn’t exactly known for its openness.
“It’s the best-kept secret in Texas,” Carrollton Newman Smith coach Paul Ressa quipped. “Nobody knows what’s going on until it’s released. Whoever keeps a lid on it, they should move to Washington — they’re that good.”
However, that secrecy is about to lessen.
The UIL has informed coaches and administrators that it will be releasing each classification’s cutoff numbers early, probably two months before February’s unveiling.
“There are definitely those that traditionally go back and forth — are traditionally on the bubble,” UIL athletic director Mark Cousins said. “And for those, they are just as interested in [their classification] as they are in which district they are in. Now, they’ll have two Christmases, instead of one.”
Cousins said he hopes the league will release the figures in mid-to-late November.
McKinney ISD athletic director Shawn Pratt is one of those keenly interested in cutoff numbers. McKinney High was one of the final teams included in Class 5A, and will be on the cusp of the newly named Class 6A conference under the new alignment.
“It’s going to be very big for us to find out whether they are in 6A or 5A, and start some planning, as best we can anyway,” Pratt said. “If anything, it will reduce some of the anxiety we have right now in our community.”
Pratt and Ressa said the biggest advantage of the classification release will involve scheduling. For Ressa, knowing his school’s conference would allow him to avoid scheduling potential district mates for non-district games. Newman Smith was seven students shy of 5A enrollment numbers in the last alignment.
“Right now, we’ll go to Arlington Seguin, we’ll go to Saginaw, Keller,” Ressa said. “Do we want to go that far? Probably not, but you do that out of safety.”
Carrollton R.L. Turner’s classification will be significant as well, Ressa said. R.L. Turner was placed in a larger classification than two other similar sized high schools from the Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD — Newman Smith and Carrollton Creekview — making any predictions about what district Ressa’s school might end in up nothing but guesswork.
“It depends on Turner, but with all three of us together, there’s only so many places we can go,” he said.
Pratt said that McKinney’s inclusion in what will be known as Class 5A (currently 4A) would ease the difficulty of finding games. Right now, there are two six-team districts in Class 5A: 5-5A and 10-5A, McKinney’s district. There are none in 4A. Going 6A next year would mean that McKinney might have to find five non-district games again, an onerous task.
Denton Ryan coach Joey Florence, whose school moved up from 4A to a six-team 5A district in the last alignment, said he didn’t think he’d have any easier time scheduling. However, he was in favor of the UIL cautiously opening up the process.
“I’m all for them opening up, but I understand that they have to be careful with what they do,” Florence said. “You don’t want people able to campaign for what district they get into.”
In the future, Florence hoped that the UIL might be able to alert schools in six-team districts early — given the difficulty of finding five non-district games.
Cousins called the move — at least in part — an effort to bring more transparency to the process and an aid for schools to prepare their schedules. But a big rationale for the change, according to Cousins, is the league’s new charter school rules. The new rules will place charter schools located in urban areas in the classification of the lowest-enrollment school in that area. For example, Dallas Gateway — a Class A charter — would be moved up to Class 4A (currently 3A) because Dallas ISD’s smallest school is in that classification.
The early release of cutoff numbers will establish which classifications those charters will reside in and allow them time for an appeal process.
The enrollment numbers for UIL classifications have risen over the years. Here are the 5A and 4A cutoffs over the past two decades:
Years: 5A Enrollment; 4A Enrollment
2012-14: 2090+; 1005-2089
2010-12: 2065+; 990-2064
2008-10: 2085+; 980-2084
2006-08: 1985+; 950-1984
2004-06: 1925+; 900-1924
2002-04: 1910+; 900-1909
2000-02: 1865+; 845-1864
1998-00: 1780+; 780-1779
1996-98: 1650+; 700-1649
1994-96: 1600+; 715-1599
New names go into effect
The UIL’s upcoming name change is sure to confuse. For next year’s districts, think of it this way – all 11-man classifications just add a letter (think Plus 1), i.e. Class 5A will be 6A; 4A will be 5A; all the way down to 1A’s 11-man programs, which will become the new 2A. Schools which play six -man football – and/or 1A Division II in all other sports – will be renamed Class 1A.
Follow Corbett Smith on Twitter at @corbettsmithDMN.