State BOE OKs fourth hoops class

Proposal will begin on a trial run in 2020-21

The Inter-Mountain file photo Tucker County’s Mckinley Murphy drives to the basket against Wheeling Central during Class A state tourney play in March.

CHARLESTON  — A fourth class for high school boys and girls basketball became a reality on Wednesday.

The State Board of Education — by a 7-2 count — approved the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission’s proposal to add a fourth class, beginning in the 2020-21 school year on a two-year trial basis.

In April the SSAC’s Board of Control passed the proposal, 111-26. It was then available for public comment for a 30-day span before eventually being given the OK on Wednesday by the state BOE.

The proposal will now sit in the Secretary of State’s Office for 60 days before becoming official.

Each school will receive a score from 1-100 in three different categories — enrollment counts for 70 percent, while location (urban or rural) and economics of the county are factored in the remaining 30 percent.

The new enrollment classifications will be released in the fall.

In the current classifications, Buckhannon-Upshur is the lone area school in Class AAA, while Elkins and Philip Barbour are in double-A and Tygarts Valley, Tucker County and Harman are in the Class A ranks.

During the spring SSAC meetings, B-U was projected to compete in 4A, Elkins and Philip Barbour in 3A and Tygarts Valley, Tucker County and Harman to remain in the single-A division.

The state tournament, played at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center, would see an extra day added with the addition of eight teams, which would be on a Tuesday.

The tournament, for both boys and girls, currently runs from Wednesday through Saturday.

A proposal from school principals and athletic directors last June to make a separate class in all sports for privates schools in the state was rejected by the state BOE by a 6-1 count.

However, several privates schools could move up a class from single-A under the new proposal, including Wheeling Central, Huntington St. Joseph, Charleston Catholic and Notre Dame.