In the red

Three junior high programs fail to meet minimum number

The Warren County School District released the registration numbers for fall sports/marching band Tuesday, July 9, 2019. While more than 630 students registered to participate in a fall activity, three junior high programs fell below the proposed minimum participation number and could be cut, and one varsity team could face probation if the WCSD Board of Directors sticks to the proposed athletic schools minimum chart brought before committee last month.

The first round of online sports/marching band registration numbers are in, and the Warren County School District Board of Directors is going to have some decisions to make.

Varsity girls tennis at Warren, junior high girls basketball at Eisenhower and junior high football and cheerleading at Youngsville came up short of paid participants after Monday’s registration deadline. If the district adheres to the chart proposed during committee meetings last month, tennis would be on probation for a year while the three junior high programs would be cut.

“We don’t have the appropriate numbers in middle level cheer and football at Youngsville and middle level girls basketball at Eisenhower,” WCSD Director of Administrative Support Services Gary Weber said. “That’s alarming in the sense that it will have a ripple effect in the varsity down the road.”

Based on the athletic school minimums chart proposed during the June 24 Personnel/Athletics and Co-Curricular Activities Committee meeting, the junior high programs were in the “red,” while tennis fell in the “yellow.” The chart indicates minimum numbers and probation-level numbers. A green number is the “magic number” of participants and the district will offer that program. A yellow number indicates probation. That number is one or two below the green number. The district will offer a program at that number for one year. If the program doesn’t move into the green in the second year, the program will not be offered. Any registration level under the yellow number is in the red and the program will not be offered.

The three junior high programs “in the red” fell well below the minimum number of required participants.

“The ADs were concerned that if you eliminate those middle level programs, you might as well say the varsity programs are gone,” WCSD Coordinator of District-Wide Athletics Rick Gignac said during the June meeting.

“We’re basically cutting our varsity program in three years,” board member Elizabeth Huffman added.

Middle school football at Youngsville only had three paid registrants by Monday’s deadline, while cheerleading had four. The minimum number for junior high football to continue is 16 (at least 14 would be needed to play on probation), while the number for cheer is 8 (probation, 7).

The varsity girls tennis team, which is already a county-wide co-op (when there is interest from other schools) hosted by Warren, had a paid registration number of 11 as of Monday. That’s one short of the “magic number” of 12. The program would need to boost that number back to 12 or higher by next season in order to play beyond this year.

At Eisenhower, the middle school girls basketball team only had four paid registrants. Based on the chart, middle school basketball teams (boys and girls) need eight players. At least 11 are needed for teams to play both a 7th and 8th grade game. County-wide, only Beaty (14) has enough to play both games. Sheffield has nine and Youngsville has 10.

There had been some discussion during the committee meeting about raising the minimum number for junior high basketball to 10.

“Could we field 10 kids,” board member Mary Passinger asked. “Would that hurt the chances of having a team at all?”

“I don’t want to do that,” Huffman responded. “That wouldn’t be fair to that outlying school. It’s not fair to raise numbers.”

Eliminating the middle school girls basketball team at Eisenhower would have Title IX ramifications. No proposals have been put forward publicly as to how the board might address those issues.

No official action was taken on the proposed chart. It was not forwarded from committee to the full board for a vote, nor was it brought up during the special board meeting immediately following the committee meeting. The next committee meeting is scheduled for July 29, with a special meeting of the board to follow.