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Gorman gets its way as proposal to limit out-of-state games fails

Updated February 6, 2023 - 5:19 pm

Bishop Gorman had its way Monday, as a proposal to limit the Gaels to one non-league football game per season was defeated at a Nevada Interscholastic Realignment Committee meeting.

The committee, consisting of 10 principals and athletic administrators, instead approved by a unanimous vote a proposal that will separate 5A South into three divisions.

In the proposal that was approved, seven Southern Nevada schools would make up the 5A Division I South: Bishop Gorman, Liberty, Silverado, Arbor View, Shadow Ridge, Desert Pines and Coronado.

Each of the three 5A divisions created would crown a state champion.

In a statement on Monday, Bishop Gorman athletic director said, “This is a winning proposal for a majority of Nevada. Plain and simple, this proposal benefits the entire state of Nevada. Unfortunately for some, this proposal does not punish Bishop Gorman.”

Liberty coach Rich Muraco said Monday as soon as heard about the seven-team, three-division proposal, “that was probably going to be the one that most people voted for. Because it makes things a lot better for a lot of schools. It creates two more state championship classes. And I felt like schools were gonna vote based on what’s best for them.”

That arrangement will allow its members to play three non-league regular season games, including out-of-state games. Teams would play six league games and a mandated crossover game with a 5A Division II South team.

Also a part of the proposal is promotion and relegation. The two bottom 5A Division I South teams in 2023 would move down to 5A Division II South for the 2024 season. The top two 5A Division II South schools would move up to 5A Division I South.

Muraco was in favor of the proposal that was defeated, which would have created a one-division, 10-team league that would have required its members to play nine league games, leaving room for only one other game. Bishop Gorman typically plays three or four regular-season games against out-of-state opponents.

“I don’t think this plan is necessarily best for football, but it’s what’s best, probably for a bigger chunk of schools,” he said.

Muraco, who is also the president of the Southern Nevada Football Coaches Association, said he liked how the proposal implements promotion and relegation. But he said he was frustrated that under this proposal the Northern schools get to “duck” the top teams.

“To me, it hurts programs like (Liberty) and Arbor View and Desert Pines, who over the last 10 years have done things to build our program and to be an elite program,” Muraco said. “And now we’re thrown in a league now with Bishop Gorman, and the North gets to avoid us.”

Last season, Bishop Gorman outscored opponents 574-23 in nine in-state games. The Gaels have won the past two state football championships and 12 out of 13 in the top division.

“No matter what happened, (Liberty was) going to be with Bishop Gorman,” Muraco said. “That’s where we want to be. We want to be with the best team and play for the biggest trophy. And if we’re good enough, we’ll win. And if we’re not, there’s no shame in that either.”

The new arrangement, which would go into effect this fall for the next two-year realignment cycle, is still pending final approval from the NIAA Board of Control.

NIAA Executive Director Donnie Nelson said the emergency Board of Control meeting would be on March 2. There will also be another meeting for teams to appeal their classification, which is tentatively scheduled for Monday.

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on Twitter.

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