This is fresh from tomorrow’s paper (or tonight’s web site), and I figured I’d post it here as well to generate some discussion. What do you guys think of the possibility of an open division in basketball?
By Jimmy Durkin
Changes could be coming to the California Interscholastic Federation state basketball championships, although executive director Marie Ishida still doesn’t have a solid gauge of how the vote will turn out.
In May, the CIF Federated Council will vote on a proposal to add an open division to the state basketball championships, beginning in the 2012-13 school year.
“We had a commissioners meeting a couple weeks ago and we wanted to get a sense of where they thought their sections were,” Ishida said. “I think it’s a tossup right now.”
The Federated Council, which will vote on the proposal, is primarily composed of representatives from the state’s 10 sections as well as representatives from several allied organizations. The vote will take place at a meeting May 4 in Milpitas.
An open division, used in football since 2008, would create a sixth division that would pluck the top teams from the five enrollment-based divisions to compete for the open championships.
The Northern and Southern regionals would each have up to eight teams per bracket and the CIF would be eligible to select teams that met specific criteria.
“Some teams fear that if they have that once-in-a-lifetime team that they’re going to be selected,” Ishida said. “They won’t necessarily. There’s a set of criteria. You’re going to have to be successful over a period of time in order to be placed into that open division.”
According to Ron Nocetti, theCIF senior director, that criteria includes teams that reach the state finals and return to the regional championships (i.e. NorCal playoffs) the following year, teams that have qualified for the regional championships three of the past four seasons, teams that win back-to-back section championships and teams that finished the season ranked in the Cal-Hi Sports state top 10 for two straight seasons.
Teams would have the option to opt in to the open divisions, but teams that are selected who meet the criteria cannot opt out.
The open division could help solve the long-debated issue of public vs. private schools.
At one time, Division I served as an open division of sorts, with the top teams petitioning up. St. Joseph Notre Dame, despite its small enrollment, won Division I titles in 1991-92 with Jason Kidd.
Since 2004, the CIF hasn’t allowed teams to petition up, and that has led to further domination by private schools. This year, 15 of the 20 teams to reach the state finals were from private schools, and all 10 champions were private.
Salesian boys coach Bill Mellis, fresh off winning the Division IV state title Friday, supports the idea and said his recent teams would’ve played in a higher division if it was possible.
“I think you’re always looking for the next challenge and that would be the next challenge for us,” Mellis said.
Mellis thinks an open division would provide not only fun basketball, but help quiet some of the grumblings of private school advantages.
“I think it helps kind of diffuse the debate a little bit,” he said. “Private schools do in a lot of ways have an advantage. Not just being able to draw from a larger area but financially. I think (an open division) would be great.”
An open division NorCal boys bracket this year would’ve likely included Salesian, Division II state champion Archbishop Mitty, De La Salle and Sheldon, the Division I NorCal champion.
A girls bracket would’ve likely included teams such as Division III state champion Bishop O’Dowd and powerhouses St. Mary’s-Stockton and Berkeley.
“It would give the opportunity for the best teams to play regardless of size,” Mellis said.