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Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - 9:24am

Prep Sports Face More Changes

The Georgia High School Association will have separate playoffs for public and private schools in its smallest classification, a change that likely ends a move by some public schools to break off and form a new sports group.

More than 30 rural public schools considered leaving the GHSA because they said private schools have more resources and an unfair competitive advantage in sports.

That movement is not completely dead, but one of its unofficial leaders, Turner County School Superintendent Ray Jordan, asked schools to decide by Friday if they still want to consider breaking away.

“Realistically, I do not believe there will continue to be interest in that organization,” Jordan said. “I will tell you that early indications of the returned surveys [sent to interested schools] indicate to me that it would be virtually impossible for those interested schools to split off and be successful.”

Jordan said organized thought the new group, tentatively named the Georgia Public Schools Association, would need at least 20 schools in its first year to be viable.

GHSA Executive Director Ralph Swearngin said splitting up the smallest classification a win-win for public and private schools.

“There will be schools on the public side and the private side who have not in the past been able to get into the playoffs who are now going to have that opportunity,” Swearngin said. “So I think in a lot of ways, we’re going to find that this will be beneficial to a lot more schools.”

With the split approved this week, there will be two Class A champions in almost every sport. A few, including volleyball, swimming and lacrosse, do not have enough teams to play regional schedules now so they will not be separated.

The change goes into effect this fall.

In the meantime, Swearngin and Jordan said officials have to figure out how to determine which schools will go to the playoffs.

Typically, the top four teams in each classification’s eight regions play in the postseason. But some regions have no private schools and others have no public schools, so Swearngin said the will have to work out how to select the 16 public and 16 private schools for the playoffs.