Budget cuts hurt Class 3A

The clock is ticking on the Class 3A Southern League.

Facing looming state budget cuts and the departure of one of its four members to join Class 4A next season and trying desperately to find games to fill schedules, the league is in need of help and fast.

And that help might not be far away, but the form in which it might come isn’t known.

The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association’s Board of Control was to discuss possible realignment of the state’s four classes at its meeting today, but the state’s governing body isn’t yet ready to act.

"The 3A is basically a dead league," Virgin Valley athletic director Keven Hess said. "We don’t have enough teams to even have a league. Everybody is concerned about it."

Boulder City and Moapa Valley are just as concerned. When Faith Lutheran jumps to Class 4A next year, Boulder City, Moapa Valley and Virgin Valley will be all that’s left of the Class 3A Southern League, a league that until this season included Pahrump Valley.

NIAA regulations state, "The Executive Director shall not schedule or conduct a regional tournament for a sanctioned sport for a Class 3A or 4A league unless at least four teams from the league participate … during the season."

The lack of a league tournament is far from the only concern. "With all the budget cuts, trying to fill a schedule is almost impossible," Moapa Valley athletic director Matt Messer said.

For next season, the three remaining schools have two football league games scheduled, leaving seven or eight dates to fill with nonleague games and no other schools in Southern Nevada (other than Faith Lutheran) anywhere near the size, enrollment-wise.

"Our scheduling is a nightmare," Boulder City athletic director Regina Quintero said. "I’ve been working on next year’s football schedule for a month trying to find games."

One potential solution being tossed around is merging Classes 3A and 4A and creating leagues based on competitive balance, but that would ask the 3A schools, which have enrollments near 700, to compete with the Southern 4As, some of which have four or even five times the number of students.

"The problem with that is to move them up, they’d be playing bigger schools," said Ray Mathis, the Clark County School District’s athletic director. "That was the problem in the first place. … If we move some 4As to 3A, that’s probably the right fix. We’d have to do that based on competitiveness or move 3A schools up."

With another Class 4A school expected to open in Las Vegas next year, the NIAA will have 49 Class 4A members and only 10 Class 3A members among 106 schools.

"It’s unfortunate there aren’t more 3A schools," said Mathis, who is also the president of the Board of Control. "I want to make the 3A happy. I want them to tell us what they think the best solution is. They’re the ones who have to live with it."

The NIAA, though, will wait until it gets more information about state budgets and might seek input from the state’s superintendents before it has any further discussion.

Contact reporter Bartt Davis at bdavis@ or 702-387-5230.


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