By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Classifications for MHSAA elections and postseason tournaments for the 2020-21 school year have been announced – including football divisions determined preseason for the first time since 1998 – and with enrollment breaks for postseason tournaments posted to each sport’s page on the MHSAA Website.
Classifications for the upcoming school year are based on a second semester count date, which for MHSAA purposes was Feb. 12. The enrollment figure submitted for athletic classification purposes may be different from the count submitted for school aid purposes, as it does not include students ineligible for athletic competition because they reached their 19th birthday prior to September 1 of the current school year and will not include alternative education students if none are allowed athletic eligibility by the local school district.
All sports’ tournaments are conducted with schools assigned to equal or nearly equal divisions, with lines dependent on how many schools participate in those respective sports.
For 2020-21, there are 752 tournament-qualified member schools. Schools recently were notified of their classification, and sport-by-sport divisions were posted to the MHSAA Website today (April 20). MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said schools may not subsequently lower their enrollment figure. However, if revised enrollment figures are higher and indicate that a school should be playing in a higher division, that school would be moved up.
Football will undergo a significant classification change for the 2020 season, with teams in both 11 and 8-player assigned their divisions before the season for the first time since 1998; from 1999-2019, divisions for the 256-team 11-player field (and later the 8-player tournament) were determined after the regular season. A hard enrollment limit also will take effect this fall for teams to be eligible for the 8-player tournament – all schools with 215 or fewer students are eligible for the 8-player playoffs if they play that format during the regular season.
Two 11-player football champions will play in different divisions in 2020 than those they won a year ago. Grand Rapids Catholic Central will move to Division 5 after winning the Division 4 championship last season, while reigning Division 6 champion Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central will play in Division 7 this upcoming season. Also, 2019 Division 2 runner-up Detroit Martin Luther King will play in Division 3 this fall. In 8-player football, the reigning champions will trade divisions – 2019 Division 1 winner Colon moving into Division 2, and Division 2 champ Pickford moving into Division 1 for this fall.
A number of 2019-20 champions will be playing in different divisions in 2020-21. Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern’s boys soccer team will move into Division 1 after winning the Division 2 title in 2019. The East Grand Rapids girls swimming & diving team will move back into Lower Peninsula Division 2 – which it won in 2017 – after earning the last two championships in Division 3. Bridgman’s girls cross country team will move into Lower Peninsula Division 3 after winning Division 4 last fall, and Grass Lake’s boys bowling team will move into Division 3 after winning the Division 4 title this winter. The Allegan boys tennis team will move into Lower Peninsula Division 3 after sharing the Division 4 title in the fall, while the Ishpeming Westwood girls tennis team will move into Upper Peninsula Division 1 after winning the Division 2 title the last four seasons. (NOTE: MHSAA Finals in five Winter sports and all Spring sports were canceled in 2019-20 due to COVID-19.)
Visit the respective sport pages on the MHSAA Website to review the divisional alignments for all MHSAA-sponsored tournament sports.
Traditional classes (A, B, C, D) – formerly used to establish tournament classifications – are used only for MHSAA elections. To determine traditional classifications, after all counts are submitted, tournament-qualified member schools are ranked according to enrollment and then split as closely into quarters as possible. For 2020-21, there are 188 member schools in each class.
Effective with the 2020-21 school year, schools with 831 or more students are in Class A. The enrollment limits for Class B are 392-830, Class C is 182-391, and schools with enrollments of 181 and fewer are Class D. The break between Classes A and B decreased 32 students from 2019-20, the break between Classes B and C decreased three students, and the break between Classes C and D is seven students fewer than the 2019-20 school year.
The new classification breaks will see 18 schools move up in Class for 2020-21 while 15 schools will move down:
Moving Up from Class B to Class A
Moving Down from Class A to Class B
Battle Creek Harper Creek
Moving Up from Class C to Class B
Dearborn Riverside Academy West
Moving Down from Class B to Class C
Detroit Jalen Rose Leadership Academy
Grand Rapids Wellspring Prep
Moving Up from Class D to Class C
Detroit Academy of the Americas
Detroit The School at Marygrove
Moving up from Class D to Class B
Detroit Cornerstone Lincoln King Academy
Moving Down from Class C to Class D
Benton Harbor Countryside Academy
Detroit Public Safety Academy
Indian River Inland Lakes
New Postseason Eligible Tournament Schools in 2020-21
Bay City Academy
Boyne City Concord Academy
Detroit Cornerstone Lincoln King Academy
Lansing Martin Luther
Redford Westfield Prep
Enrollment Breaks by Classes – 2020-21
(Number of schools in parentheses)
Class A: 831 and above (188 schools)
Class B: 392 – 830 (188)
Class C: 182 – 391 (188)
Class D: 181 and below (188)
The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.4 million spectators each year.