All three Division I schools dropping to Division II in fall
In the ever-shifting world of the Arizona Interscholastic Association, the five major schools in Yuma were involved in another shake-up.
Starting next year, the schools in the Yuma High School District will have all their sports teams compete at Division II. Essentially, this means the Cibola, Kofa and San Luis are moving down from Division I because Gila Ridge and Yuma High are currently at Division II.
“What Yuma did is the schools came together through the process and put forward a petition to come down a division, and that was approved to remain close together to cut down costs and out of school time,” said Chuck Schmidt, the AIA Associated Executive Director.
According to Yuma High School District Athletic Director Kevin Gettings, the crux of the appeal comes from a scheduling change from the AIA. For the 2012-2013 seasons, schools could schedule games not only with teams out of their section, but out of their division, too – meaning the AIA computer scheduling allows Division I Cibola to play Division II Gila Ridge. For the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 seasons, a team is automatically scheduled another team in their section.
“They would only play teams in their section and they wouldn't play the other local schools,” Gettings said. “Yuma High was (going to be) Division III, Gila Ridge and Lake Havasu were Division II, and the rest were Division I. Because they would put us in different sections, our travel costs would skyrocket.”
Instead, the YHSD appealed to the AIA to have all of the schools and all of the sports be Division II.
At a meeting in November, the AIA Executive Board approved Yuma's appeal by a vote of 4-1.
One question with grouping all the Yuma schools together in the same section will be whether schools like San Luis (enrollment of 2,708 according to the AIA), Cibola (2,585) and Kofa (2,128) will have a competitive advantage over Lake Havasu (1,936), Gila Ridge (1,823) and Yuma High (1,466). However, Gettings feels that, considering all of the sports, it won't be an issue.
“It depends on the sport,” he said. “Of course, everybody thinks of football. But take football off the table, it just depends on the sport and even depends on the year.”
And in a city with harsh unemployment like Yuma, the economics of the matter can drive a decision as well – with travel expenses, especially.
“In a perfect world, everybody would like to be in where their population shows, but financially we just can't do that right now,” Gettings said. “Unfortunately, that's where it's at.”
After several of the schools that were originally placed in the section with the Yuma schools appealed, the concrete has finally dried on where each school will be placed.
For football, Cibola, Gila Ridge, Kofa, San Luis and Yuma High joins Lake Havasu to make Section IV, with seven sections making up Division II. However, in other sports, the Metro-area schools won the appeal and are no longer in the section with the Yuma schools. Instead, there is a hybrid section consisiting of the Yuma schools, Lake Havasu and schools from northern Arizona – Bradshaw Mountain, Coconino, Flagstaff, Kingman, Mingus, Mohave and Prescott.
This is for the basketball, soccer, baseball and softball teams and while they are all in the same section, the AIA and Gettings said that the way scheduling works, the Yuma teams will only play section games against in-town schools with one game against Lake Havasu. There are no sections for swimming, golf, and track.
“It's not much different than what we've been doing,” Gettings said. “We'll be doing our own thing down here and be in the same section with the Northern schools and see who the section winner is by power points.”