A move to place all state public schools into three instead of four classifications for interscholastic athletics likely will not draw much support.
"It's a topic that comes up from time to time, and it did come up last year," said Ned Sparks, executive secretary for the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association. "The purpose was to put eight teams instead of four into the regional playoffs, but I do not think there is enough support to get it changed."
The MPSSAA reclassifies all schools according to enrollment every two years, designating the largest 25 percent of them as 4A. The next 25 percent by size are designated 3A and so on. Reclassification for the upcoming two-year cycle, beginning in the fall of 1991, will be done this winter.
Sparks said smaller schools may tend to oppose the idea of forming only three classifications because they would have less of a chance to win a state championship.
On another matter, Sparks said there would be a public hearing next Tuesday at the state board of education offices (1:30 p.m.) concerning the proposal that would permit MPSSAA schools to use volunteer coaches. The state board will vote on the proposal at its next meeting, set for Oct. 31.
It would allow for volunteer coaches, provided they not be used as head coaches at any level, have a high school diploma, are at least 21 years old and be enrolled in or have completed a one-credit course in the prevention and care of athletic injuries.
"I can't guess how the vote will go," said Sparks. "Some people like the proposal, but others see it as the beginning steps toward replacing paid coaches."
Regarding the possibility of accepting new members, Sparks said he has not heard from the principals of the city public schools that are members of the Maryland Scholastic Association rather than the MPSSAA. Sparks met with them last spring and the possibility of the city schools joining the MPSSAA was discussed.
"We talked about the matter and it was left that they would discuss it further and get back to me," said Sparks. "I have not heard from them."
Such a move likely would mean the demise of the MSA, but it won't happen soon.
The MPSSAA prefers its classification by enrollment system. That would mean, for example, that Dunbar, a small school, would be locked into playing for the state 1A title, even though in a given year, it might be the best team of any school size in basketball.
The MPSSAA also has restrictions on travel, meaning coaches could not take their basketball teams on the Christmas tournament trail to such places as Hawaii or Las Vegas. In recent years, Dunbar, Lake Clifton and Southern have made distant trips.
Speaking of restrictions, Baltimore County no longer permits an athlete to compete in two sports in the same season. Soccer players may not kick for the football team, for example. Nor can Perry Hall speedster Roy Marsh, the Gators' hard-hitting All-Metro outfielder, join the track team for the regional and state meets.