FORT WAYNE – In the first of 11 scheduled town hall meetings, approximately 60 people gathered in the Northrop cafeteria Tuesday to discuss whether to remain with multiple classes or go back to the pre-1998 single-class system in the IHSAA boys and girls basketball tournaments.
IHSAA commissioner Bobby Cox and state Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, are leading the tour around the state.
Both sides of the issue were well represented by the members of the public, and that was the whole reason for why we did this and why we are doing this at 11 locations around the state, Cox said after the 45-minute town hall meeting. There’s no guarantee anything is going to change. But there’s no guarantee anything’s not going to change.
A supporter of a return to single-class basketball, Delph said he is hoping to possibly add two more sites for the public meetings in Evansville and Indianapolis.
We didn’t have an expectation as to how many people would show up, Delph said of the first meeting. Back in 1998, there was the feeling that the public did not have a voice. So I am thankful we are giving the public the opportunity to weigh in on this issue even though it is 15 some years later.
The crowd was filled with fans, coaches, athletic directors, principals, school board members and referees, and 17 people took advantage of the opportunity to talk for two minutes. Each person was timed on a nearby basketball scoreboard.
Delph said he figured of the people who spoke a dozen people were in favor of single class and five liked the current system.
Neither one of us (Cox and Delph) have predetermined an outcome, but we have just agreed to go around the state, Delph said. I remain optimistic that if the public turns out and says that they would like to return to a single-class basketball tournament I think that will be respected by the IHSAA.
There were views on both sides of the issue.
Jenny Vogel watched her son David and his Norwell teammates play in the recent Class 3A state basketball finals and is in favor of holding onto the multiple classes.
The life lessons my son and his team learned from that experience will last him the rest of his life, she said. It’s wonderful that more students can experience a state tourney run because of class athletics in Indiana.
There are some, though, that want to the tradition and national visibility of the former format.
That’s what we have done, we have diluted the successes and taken away from our tournament, said Todd Davis, who is from the Anderson area.
There was also a straw poll taken on the issue at the meeting and Cox said the information will be shared in a principals’ meeting held at Northrop this morning. An electronic survey will be taken from boys and girls basketball coaches, athletic director and principals around the state. All the information will be given to Delph and made public.