The Nokomis and Cony boys’ basketball teams play in front of large crowd during a Class A North semifinal last February at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The Maine Principals’ Association Classification Committee on Thursday unanimously rejected a proposal that would have dropped the minimum enrollment level in the state’s five high school basketball classes and resulted in many schools moving into classes with far larger opponents, starting in 2023-24.

Under the proposal forwarded last week by the MPA’s Basketball Committee, the state would have kept five classes, but the division for schools with the largest enrollments would have increased from 17 to 25 teams, and a new Class S would have been created for schools with enrollments of 100 or less.

Instead, members of the Classification Committee voted to meet with the chairs of the Basketball Committee to discuss new proposals, including four-class and five-class possibilities.

Classification Committee members cited several factors for rejecting the proposal: enrollment cutoff numbers for each class; scheduling challenges; disparity of program status in the higher classes; and no North and South divisions in Class S.

“I just think there’s some work we can do to help the most people,” said Medomak Valley Athletic Director Matthew Lash, a member of the Classification Committee.

The Classification Committee did unanimously pass a proposal from the Football Committee that would keep four classes of 11-man, plus two classes for eight-man football. All six classes would have North and South regions. Class A would rise from eight teams to 12, while Class D would rise from eight teams to 13.


A proposal from the Volleyball Committee to go from three classes to four was unanimously rejected by the Classification Committee. Instead, the panel passed three classes, with cutoff numbers remaining the same as the previous classification cycle. Under the passed proposal, only Biddeford (Class A) and Washington Academy (Class B) would have to petition up.

The North Yarmouth Academy and Carrabec girls’ basketball teams compete during a Class C South semifinal last season at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

No vote was taken Thursday on the Soccer Committee’s proposal for the addition of an eight-player division for boys’ and girls’ soccer – a move to help programs with struggling numbers.

The football and volleyball proposals next advance to the Interscholastic Management Committee’s Jan. 26 meeting and would become officially approved by a vote of the general membership at its April 27 conference at the Samoset Resort in Rockport.

A path to final approval for basketball reclassification – and soccer – is less clear.

The Classification Committee scheduled meetings on Feb. 14 and March 6 to vote on new proposals, as well as to hear appeals. Once approved, the proposal would advance to the Management Committee for review.

Members of the Basketball Committee were disappointed in the vote, but added they look forward to working with the Classification Committee.


“It’s not unprecedented that Classification shoots down a proposal from a committee,” said Hermon Athletic Director Rick Sinclair, a Basketball Committee member. “We made some changes, there’s some shock value in it. We knew that making these changes, it would still have to go through Classification, and still has to go through the Management Committee to get approved. There’s always that possibility that it doesn’t get voted through. I think it’s a great idea that we all get together so we know what’s broken and what needs to be fixed, so we have a little bit of a goal when we’re doing the reclassification of basketball.”

“As a Basketball Committee member, I know how much time, thought, effort went into the final proposal; that part of it is discouraging,” said Bonny Eagle Athletic Director Eric Curtis. “But, on the flip side, we’re all professionals and we’ve got jobs to do. I think all of us want to do what’s in the best interest of kids and school-based athletics.”

The Classification and Basketball committees spent much of the Zoom meeting discussing enrollment cutoff numbers.

The Skowhegan and Brewer boys’ basketball teams play in front of large crowd during a Class A North semifinal last season at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Under the Basketball Committee’s proposal, the enrollment cutoff for the largest class would drop from 800 to 701. Several teams would move up to the largest class, including Marshwood, Kennebunk and Biddeford in the South, and Brewer, Skowhegan, Mt. Ararat, Brunswick and Messalonskee in the North.

The new Class B would feature schools with enrollments between 401-700, followed by Class C (251-400), Class D (101-250) and Class S (100 or less).

MPA Director Mike Burnham explained to the Classification Committee that the Basketball Committee considered as many as seven different proposals to bring to a vote.


“There were many suggestions, many different types of proposals that were discussed,” Burnham said. “But nothing has been finalized, and the conversation will continue with an invitation to members of the Basketball Committee to be a part. It is not that things were approved or rejected, other than it wasn’t supported for the proposal, but ongoing work.”

Classification Committee members presented a variety of changes, including one from Lash, the Medomak Valley athletic director, and from Southern Aroostook Athletic Director Cliff Urquhart. Their proposal would have a Class AA for schools with enrollments of 835 or more.

Prior to the vote, many school administrators voiced strong opposition to the Basketball Committee proposal.

Skowhegan Athletic Director Brian Jones, who was concerned about his programs moving to the highest enrollment class, said he was pleased with the outcome Thursday.

“I’m happy that they’re at least going to re-look at it,” he said. “I certainly had my reservations about it. I’m glad that if they got feedback from other schools and other communities, they’re at least listening while kicking it back to the Basketball Committee. Certainly, us being in A was not a good fit for us. I had a lot of conversations with administration, with my coaches. Those rivalries and those schools that were in the new proposal in (Class) B, your Conys, your Mt. Blues, Lawrences, Nokomis; those are all local games for us and have been big draws for us. Being in a different classification than those schools puts us in a tough spot, because we want to play those schools, and they match up well with us.”

Urquhart, the Southern Aroostook athletic director, said he spoke with several administrators from schools whose basketball programs would be part of Class S.

“With all due respect to the Basketball Committee, I like those guys, I’ve had numerous conversations with those guys. I don’t think I’d be in favor of it, it moves too many people around (and) I think it’s a little too drastic,” Urquhart said. “I think the perception is that the (proposed) Class S schools overwhelmingly support this. That’s really not the case. I’ve had a couple Class S schools not in favor of it, believe it or not. They feel they don’t want a statewide division; they want a North and South. They worry about travel. They worry about the stigma associated with it. I think in Class D, there’s already a stigma associated with it. Not to name names or name schools, but there wasn’t an overwhelmingly supportive division in that.”

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