IHSA News & Announcements Archive


IHSA Board Approves Significant Changes to Multiplier Waiver and Classification Policies

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The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Board of Directors approved a pair of recommendations at its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, June 13, 2011, that make significant changes to the Association’s Multiplier Waiver Policy and Classification Policy. The Board had been reviewing potential changes to both throughout the 2010-11 school year.

New Multiplier Waiver Policy

The new multiplier waiver policy adopted by the IHSA Board on June 13 establishes criteria for an automatic waiver of the multiplier in individual sports and activities, taking into account each program's advancement in IHSA tournaments over the previous six years. Previously, a school had to apply for and receive a waiver that covered all of its sport and activity programs.

“We have been studying the impact and effectiveness of the multiplier since its inception in 2005,” said IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman. “Over the years, we have seen a number of instances where the multiplier has been overly punitive to some programs, resulting in lopsided outcomes in postseason contests.  Now we have four years' worth of data since the class expansion that occurred in 2007-08, and we felt that we could address some of the inadequacies in the system.”

The multiplier, which was first implemented in the fall of 2005, multiplies a member school’s enrollment by 1.65 to determine the class it will compete in during IHSA postseason tournaments. The multiplier applies to all “non-boundaried” schools, as defined by IHSA By-law 3.170: “Any private school, charter school, lab school, magnet school, residential school, and any public school in a multi-high school district that does not accept students from a fixed portion of the district.”

For schools that are subject to the multiplier, the new policy grants an automatic waiver to any sport or activity program that, as a team, has accomplished none of the following over the last six school terms (in this case, 2005-06 to 2010-11): won a state tournament trophy, qualified for the state final tournament, won a sectional, won a regional two or more times, finished second or third in the sectional two or more times (track and field only), won a first-round playoff game (football only), or finished in the top 10 in the state sweepstakes (music only).
“Our previous waiver policy was well thought out, but it simply turned out to be too conservative,” said Hickman. “There have been a number of compelling cases around the state where one highly successful team at a school or a few highly successful individuals have prevented all the other teams from that school from being able to receive the multiplier waiver. Our Board felt the right thing to do was to change the waiver policy and give these student-athletes the chance to compete on more equitable ground.”

New Classification Policy

The changes to the classification system stemmed from the need to address imbalances in the number of schools in each class in several sports and activities, and the fact that those imbalances might be increased as schools affected by the multiplier waiver move to a different class.  In years past, most sports and activities used the same set of enrollment cutoffs.  In 2011-12, each sport and activity will have its own set of cutoffs.

An obvious imbalance can be seen in the 2010-11 entries for boys golf.  A total of 503 teams competed.  Using the standard three-class enrollment cutoff (775 students), nearly half the schools (245) were assigned to class 1A.  Only 111 schools were assigned to Class 2A and 147 were assigned to Class 3A.   Other examples of imbalanced classes include boys track (271-143-168), girls track (267-143-165) and girls soccer (95-133-160).

“Our Board looked at and discussed a number of different options for classification cutoffs,” said Hickman. “Some felt the most logical option might be simply cutting things squarely, for example having 25 percent of the schools in each class for four-class sports. In the end, the new percentages keep the cutoffs closer to the current system while distributing the entries more evenly than in the past.”

“Different sports offered different challenges during this process,” added Hickman. “For example, the Board felt good about the breakdown when three-class team sports were evenly split with a third of the competing schools in each class. Yet, when you look at the three-class individual sports, it was necessary to increase the percentage of schools allocated to Class 1A because many of the 1A schools have only a few individuals competing and don’t field full teams, which would alter the competitive balance for team advancement in the State Series for those sports.”

Here are the classification ranges approved by the Board for the 2011-12 school term:

Sport or Activity Classes Classification Ranges Fraction of
Team Entries
Per Class
Approx. No. of
Team Entries
per Class
Boys Baseball 4 1A: up to 328     2A: 329-802     3A: 803-1729     4A: 1730 and over 518518418418 184, 183, 147, 146
Boys Basketball 4 1A: up to 274     2A: 275-669     3A: 670-1580     4A: 1581 and over 518518418418 203, 202, 162, 162
Girls Basketball 4 1A: up to 309     2A: 310-743     3A: 744-1649     4A: 1650 and over 518518418418 188, 188, 151, 150
Girls Softball 4 1A: up to 321     2A: 322-743     3A: 744-1697     4A: 1698 and over 518518418418 175, 174, 140, 140
Girls Volleyball 4 1A: up to 273     2A: 274-654     3A: 655-1608     4A: 1609 and over 518518418418 191, 190, 152, 152
Boys Soccer 3 1A: up to 732     2A: 733-1707     3A: 1708 and over 131313 140, 140, 140
Girls Soccer 3 1A: up to 857     2A: 858-1792     3A: 1793 and over 131313 130, 129, 129
Boys Wrestling 3 1A: up to 751     2A: 752-1687     3A: 1688 and over 131313 142, 142, 141
Competitive Cheerleading 3 S: up to 656     M: 657-1716     L: 1717 and over     C: by choice 131313 85, 85, 84
44 (coed)
Boys Cross Country 3 1A: up to 760     2A: 761-1687     3A: 1688 and over 410310310 187, 141, 140
Girls Cross Country 3 1A: up to 788     2A: 789-1687     3A: 1688 and over 410310310 184, 139, 138
Boys Golf 3 1A: up to 540     2A: 541-1487     3A: 1488 and over 410310310 201, 151, 151
Boys Track & Field 3 1A: up to 557     2A: 558-1444     3A: 1445 and over 410310310 233, 175, 174
Girls Track & Field 3 1A: up to 561     2A: 562-1444     3A: 1445 and over 410310310 230, 172, 172
Girls Golf 2 A: up to 1026     AA: 1027 and over 1212  148, 148
Scholastic Bowl 2 A: up to 540     AA: 541 and over 1212  262, 262
Music 5 cutoffs will be determined this summer    

“There is no doubt that this is one of the biggest changes the IHSA has undertaken in some time," Hickman said. "The new policies represent significant shifts in philosophy. The high schools that make up the IHSA are a mixture of small schools, large schools, city schools, rural schools, with countless other variables that make them all different. Those differences mean that no two schools will be affected by the new policies in exactly the same way. History tells us that some schools will be happy with these changes and others will be disappointed by them.  I commend our Board for having the courage to look at the big picture and make a decision that they believe is in the best interest of all our member schools and their students.”


Waiver status of non-boundaried schools for 2011-12, sorted alphabetically by school
Official enrollments for 2011-12, sorted alphabetically by school
Official enrollments for 2011-12, sorted numerically
Classifications for 2011-12, sorted alphabetically by school


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