The spring 2017 issue of benchmarks published by the Michigan High School Athletic Association examines tournament classification in this state and around the country [Click for this issue]. Editor Rob Kaminski anticipated this would be a breaking story in Michigan.
In late March, the MHSAA Representative Council approved a second 16-team playoff for Class D schools in 8-player football, starting this fall – 2017.
Then in early May the Council approved the move from four traditional classes (A, B, C, D) to four equal divisions (1, 2, 3, 4) in boys and girls basketball and girls volleyball, effective with the 2018-19 school year.
The growth in 8-player football schools (from 24 in 2011 to 60 today) predicated the football change, while an 18 percent decline in the Class D enrollment cap over the past decade (248 in 2007-08 to 203 in 2017-18) was making the change to equal divisions in basketball and volleyball more sensible each year.
The objection of smaller schools to the equal divisions format in these sports has diminished over time as the Class D enrollment range has shrunk. If the change to equal divisions had occurred for 2017-18, the change would be from a Class D maximum of 203 students to a Division 4 maximum of 216 in girls volleyball, 212 in girls basketball and just 208 in boys basketball.