ROCKINGHAM — The high school athletic landscape in North Carolina is about to change again.
As it does every four years, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association will undergo a realignment for the 2017 through 2021 academic years. This allows the NCHSAA to place schools in the proper division based on their average daily membership.
Earlier this week, the NCHSAA released its 20-30-30-20 model. According to this formula, 20 percent of the member schools will be placed in either the 1A or 4A divisions. The 2A and 3A classifications will each have 30 percent of the schools.
Right now, each classification has 25 percent of the schools. Currently, there are 100 schools in the 2A, 3A and 4A divisions and 98 on the 1A level.
The proposed 20-30-30-20 breakdown is not quite that cut and dry. The NCHSAA will make a slight adjustment to the formula. It will remove all the non-football-playing schools and place them according to the 20-30-30-20 plan. The non-football schools will be added back into the mix according to their ADM. The majority are 1A schools.
The breakdown will more than likely look like this — 76 4A schools, 114 3A schools, 116 2A schools and 103 1A schools.
Richmond athletic director Ricky Young said the NCHSAA seems set to go with this formula. This means the 4A division will lose 24 schools to the lower classifications.
This will alter the conferences throughout the membership and could result in more split conferences. Schools could petition the NCHSAA Board of Directors to change classification.
As it stands, only four 4A conferences — CAP 8, Southeastern, Southwestern and Southwest Wake — would not lose any schools in the reshuffling. If the NCHSAA elects, it could add to those conferences or create new ones.
If it elects to create new conferences, the biggest challenges are going to be in the eastern and western parts of the state. In its current form, the seven-team 3A-4A split Eastern Carolina Conference is going to see two of its 4A members, D.H. Conley and J.H. Rose, drop to 3A. That is similar to the current Mountain Athletic Conference with two 4A schools and five 3A schools.
The MAC is about to see a change as well because T.C. Roberson is slated to drop to the 3A level in 2017, leaving McDowell as the lone 4A school in that area.
Things are even worse for the Northwestern Conference. Like the MAC, it has two 4A teams (South Caldwell and Watauga) and Watauga is set to fall to 3A. In addition, three of its 3A schools — Fred T. Foard, Hibriten and Patton — are scheduled to drop to the 2A level.
Even in metro areas like Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh, there will need to be some changes in the conferences.
The North Piedmont Conference will see Alexander Central fall to the 3A level. North Lincoln and West Iredell, both 3A schools, will be placed on the 2A level. The Mecka will have A.L. Brown and Jay M. Robinson slip to the 3A classification.
The six-team All Metro and PAC-6 conferences will only have two 4A schools in two years. The eight-school Greater Neuse River will have four 4A members.
Three schools are set to join the 4A classification for 2017. Apex Friendship is a new school and its football team is playing a junior varsity schedule this season with an eye of moving up to varsity next season. Corinith Holders will be moving up from the 3A Two Rivers Conference. Hickory Ridge will become a 4A school, moving up from the 3A South Piedmont Conference.
Reach managing editor Shawn Stinson at 910-817-2671 and follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.