All-State tennis

Dominic Roman helped Bishop Kelley tie for the Class 5A tennis title. Private schools could be affected by rules proposed Wednesday to the OSSAA. JOEY JOHNSON/for the Tulsa World, file

A committee studying how private schools are classified for athletic competition within the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association proposed rules changes Wednesday for volleyball and tennis teams.

Private schools in those sports enjoy a greater postseason success rate than in other OSSAA sports, the committee chaired by Adair athletic director Brad Rogers told the OSSAA board of directors.

“From what the data shows, teams in all other sports seemed to have a much smaller increase in success by the private schools,” Rogers said.

Rule 14 was implemented in 2011 to close the perceived competitive gaps between public and private schools. It requires that a private school program enjoying prolonged success in its natural classification must move up to compete at the next level.

The higher success rates in volleyball and tennis means Rule 14 isn’t working as well as it should in those sports, Rogers told the board.

The proposed changes would eliminate the ban on moving to Class 6A in those sports. It also changes the definition for prolonged success from finishing in the playoff final eight in two out of three years to finishing in the final four.

“All sports are not created equal and in some sports, it’s easier to finish in the top eight than it is in others, so it’s not a true definition,” said Lance Parks, a committee member and Bishop Kelley athletic director.

Parks said the rules would help to alleviate logjams where a large number of private schools, which make up a small fraction of the overall OSSAA membership, were forced to move up, hit a ceiling and have congregated at inordinate numbers in one classification.

In 5A girls tennis, specifically, 10 of the 32 schools are private. Bishop Kelley won the team title and seven of the top 12 schools in the team standings were private.

Removing the cap that would permit Bishop Kelley to move to 6A and for others to fall back into 4A and would give 5A a more representative blend of public and private schools.

The proposed changes will move on to the October area meetings for further discussion.

Rogers said the committee met four times for four hours each over the last several months, studying “an enormous amount of data.” That data will be made available on the OSSAA website, he said.

“It was a tough assignment, but I think our committee did a great job of making this about the data and not about what our personal opinions might be,” Rogers said.

Going forward

Todd Goolsby said Oklahoma needs to be a leader in the growing sport of girls wrestling.

Goolsby, OSSAA assistant director in charge of wrestling, said he’s moving ahead with plans to stage an exhibition girls tournament in conjunction with the boys state championships, Feb. 28-29, 2020, at State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City.

The state had about 90 female wrestlers last year. Goolsby would like to see eight particpants each in 10, 12 or 14 weight classifications. He plans to survey Oklahoma wrestling coaches next month on how many classes they feel are necessary.

It won’t be a sanctioned event, but sanctioning girls wrestling as an OSSAA sports is likely to follow in a year or two, he said.

Mike Brown


Twitter: @mikebrownTW

Sports Writer

Mike has covered high school football, basketball and baseball for the Tulsa World since Spencer Tillman, Wayman Tisdale and Troy Aikman were sophomores in high school. Phone: 918-581-8390