WENATCHEE — A vote is in place by the principals of the Columbia Basin Big Nine schools to realign the 15-team conference for the 2012-13 school year, but athletic directors from Eastmont and Wenatchee say the change is far from official.
The principals’ plan is to eliminate the existing 3A and 4A divisions, and replace them with North and South divisions that disregard the schools’ classifications.
The South Division would feature eight schools: Walla Walla, and the seven Tri-Cities schools — Chiawana, Hanford, Kamiakin, Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, Southridge.
The North Division would include Eastmont, Eisenhower, Davis, Moses Lake, Sunnyside, Wenatchee and West Valley.
The local athletic directors take exception to the imbalance of travel between the two divisions, among other parts of the proposal.
“When you look at the Columbia Basin Big Nine, there’s always travel for Wenatchee, Eastmont or Moses Lake,” Eastmont co-athletic director Russ Waterman said. “The South Division (schools) would just have to make a cross-town trip, and it saves them on cost. … It needs to be a level playing field.”
The athletic directors cite that their by-laws require a super-majority of athletic directors and principals for such a change to be implemented.
“There’s a contention that the principals chose not to follow written guidelines,” said Dan White, Eastmont’s other co-athletic director.
“It’s very sad that the Big Nine as we know it may not exist much longer,” Wenatchee athletic director B.J. Kuntz said.
Kuntz said that five of the eight schools in the proposed North Division — Wenatchee, Eastmont, Moses Lake, Davis and Eisenhower — would be content to strike out on their own and form their own “District 6” 4A division next season if the plan isn’t renegotiated.
Eastmont and Pasco will move up to 4A in 2012, and West Valley is currently evaluating whether it will opt-up to stay in 3A or go down to 2A. In the principals’ plan, West Valley and Sunnyside would be the only 3A schools in the North Division.
West Valley has until Tuesday to make its decision. The belief among the Eastmont athletic directors is if the realignment is implemented, West Valley will join the 2A Central Washington Athletic Conference — which is losing Quincy to the 1A level.
“I think there’s a pretty strong commitment out of the North schools — we’re not leaving,” Waterman said. “And the Tri-Cities schools want their own division.”
White and Waterman said the realignment issue will find its way to the league’s superintendents in January.