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NMAA: ADs interested in returning to five classes for athletics

The days of a Class 6A division in New Mexico high school athletics could be over soon.

After a year and a half of planning and discussion, the New Mexico Activities Association’s board of directors on Feb. 15 are likely to vote on a plan that would send the state back to a five-class system starting with the 2018-19 school year.

“Are we doing it the best we can? Or are there other ways out there we can do it?” NMAA executive director Sally Marquez said.

This vote could be the precursor to a radical change in the way the state aligns its member schools.

The NMAA is looking at a new model — a so-called “conference” model — that could have two classifications of schools together in a single conference.

“What the (alignment and classification) committee and the athletic directors are looking for is something to … help with cost and keep kids in schools (by having less travel),” Marquez said.

She said the state’s spacious southeastern region was not the only region where a conference system might make sense.

“There are lots of pockets,” Marquez said, adding that the NMAA wanted to look “outside the box.”

As ADs need to begin scheduling for the 2018-19 school year by the end of this coming calendar year, it will be necessary for the NMAA to have a model in place by the fall.

Before the 2014-15 season, the state added a Class 6A, although New Mexico’s six-class system has been in place longer than that, going back to the 2010-11 school year when there was a Class B. Volleyball and basketball started naming state champions in Class B that year.

“The consensus is, from the ADs, is that they’d like to go back to five classes,” Marquez said.

Football might be an exception to any future five-class model. Currently it features seven classes: Classes 6A-2A, plus 6-Man and 8-Man divisions.

Except for football, the only sports that currently crown as many as six state champions are basketball, volleyball and track and field.

In sports like cross-country and baseball, Classes 1A and 2A are combined into one entity. Soccer, wrestling, tennis and golf combine Classes 1A-4A into a single postseason event. Softball combines 1A through 3A.

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