Could this potentially be the first domino to fall nationally, or merely an isolated decision made to appease a spirited group?
Only time will tell as the debate between public vs. private schools continues, but one thing is certain: the vote Tuesday by the executive committee of the Georgia High School Association figures to generate a lot of interest around the country.
As reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution
, the GHSA approved a resolution, on a 37-12 vote, to hold separate playoffs for public and private schools in the classification comprised of the state's smallest schools – Class A. The change would be implemented for Class A in all sports for competition this fall.
The schools would still compete against one another during the regular season.
"(The vote) was a little stronger than I thought it would be," GHSA Executive Director Ralph Swearngin told the newspaper. "I think there are a variety of reasons why people voted how they did. I think the pleas for unity being in the best interest of everyone was a factor."
The vote comes after a group of dissident schools threatened to leave the GHSA
and form a new association – the Georgia Public School Association. The more than 30 mostly Class A schools organized and initiated the movement last month because they believed the GHSA did not do enough to address the growing competitive gap between private and public schools. It was of particular concern in rural areas.
The GHSA vote likely ends those proceedings, but Wilcox County (Rochelle, Ga.) principal Chad Davis didn't commit fully to that yet. Davis is one of the leaders of the proposed GPSA.
"I don't think that there is a need for (the GPSA) now," said Davis, who also told the newspaper he was surprised by the outcome. "That's my personal opinion, but we're going to check with other schools that were involved in the process in the next few weeks."
While separating public and private schools for state competition is not a new concept, the Georgia situation is noteworthy for at least a couple of reasons: 1) It perhaps provides a blueprint for like-minded public schools to rally in other states, and 2) the GHSA often is viewed as a key player nationally among its peers.
Predictably, not everyone was happy about the direction of the decision.
"Our biggest thing is we feel the GHSA is one of the top four high school associations in the nation, and I think we just made ourselves weaker," Eagle's Landing Christian Academy (McDonough, Ga.) athletic director Scott Queen told the AJC. "The best should play the best."
And another reasoned at what level does the separation stop.
"It seems to be that the time has come where we are trying to level the playing field everywhere, and that's such a relative matter," Buford (Ga.) athletic director Dexter Wood told the newspaper.