LAYTON — Layton Christian Academy put a proposal in front of the UHSAA Board of Trustees at its Nov. 21 meeting requesting to move boys basketball and boys soccer, which currently compete in the 2A classification, up to 3A.
It's an idea the private school's administrators, as well as coaches of both teams, feel is the right move. It's also the fourth such request LCA has made to move specific sports up a classification for competitive reasons.
And, for the fourth time, that request has been denied.
UHSAA assistant director Jon Oglesby said the board felt it didn't want to set precedent by switching teams' classifications in the middle of an alignment period.
The next realignment will start being discussed next year and will go into effect for the 2021-22 school year.
"Our baseball team is not a problem. We understand that. Our football team is not a problem. Our boys basketball team and soccer, now, both are problems because we're predominantly an international school," Layton Christian administrator Greg Miller said.
LCA boys basketball has won eight straight region titles, two of the past three state championships and three state titles since 2012.
Last year, the Eagles won their 10 region games by an average of 48 points.
They beat then-5A Roy by 19, eventual 3A champion Morgan by 19, 6A Hunter by 14 and a very good Trinity Christian (Texas) team that featured a Texas A&M commit by 16.
They're always considered one of the favorites to win the boys basketball state championship.
LCA's boys soccer team outscored its opponents 128-10 last year and won the state title. Most games were ended via the eight-goal mercy rule.
The year before, the Eagles set the UHSAA's single-season goal record with 146 and won a region title a year after winning the 2017 state title.
LCA has mostly international students and that isn't changing anytime soon. Many students come from soccer-first countries and are way ahead in soccer than their American peers.
"When I travel — and I travel a lot, we have students from 32 different countries — I run into kids that play soccer obviously everywhere, but really basketball everywhere," said Miller, who serves as the private-school representative on the BOT.
The other times LCA was rebuffed in similar requests came in February 2017, September 2017 and November 2018.
The actual move of two non-football sports move up one classification would be unprecedented in both a literal and figurative sense. Teams who win a lot in a classification typically want to stay there.
"Our goal has not been to just run off championships and those things, which is why four times we've offered to voluntarily move up," Miller said.
Part of the proposal, Miller wrote to the UHSAA, is to be a solution for a growing public-private-charter school tension, which is high at the 2A level.
Miller sent a letter to UHSAA executive director Rob Cuff, the BOT and the UHSAA Executive Committee that reads, in part: "We do believe that a voluntary move up by a school that has a modicum of success and the ability to compete at a higher classification is a way to relieve some of the tensions as well as providing a proactive approach to being part of the solution."
The 2A classification counts 10 charter schools and seven private schools (61% of the classification) among its 28 full-member schools, according to the UHSAA website.
Not all of them play every sport. Twenty-four play boys basketball, 25 play girls basketball and 20 fielded boys soccer teams last spring. A lot of the recent winners, though, are private schools.
"Probably around when we were getting good enough to maybe win a state tournament, you started to feel the tension. That was back in the 2000s somewhere," Miller said.
Either Waterford or Rowland Hall has won the boys tennis state championship in the lowest classification every year since 2013 (2A from 2013-17, 3A since 2018).
This fall, Morgan High was the first public school to win a girls tennis state title in the lowest classification (3A) since 2013.
A private or charter school has won the 2A boys soccer title each year since 2013. Rowland Hall and Waterford have won the past four 2A girls soccer championships.
The numbers get really inflated once region titles are counted.
LCA boys basketball head coach Bobby Porter hears the talk all the time about how the Eagles are "stockpiling trophies."
"We tried and people have voted for us not to go," Porter said. "We just have to do the best we can, we’ll play whoever we’ll play, we’re trying to give the people what they want."
The governing body with power to do such a move hasn't approved it. The concern this time was about being in the middle of an alignment period.
An aspect that fueled the November 2018 denial: No official process exists to move a non-football sport up or down one classification.
"When we move into the next realignment, there may be a mechanism created that allows a single sport to move up. I don't know. I don't know if the state's ready for that, but the possibility exists because you have a realignment and I think it will certainly be in the discussion," Miller said.
As far as precedent goes if LCA basketball and soccer get moved up, who's to say it wouldn't prompt petitions from individually successful programs at other schools?
If that happened, it could further complicate an already complicated realignment process by having an extra handful or dozen teams that need to be placed into different regions than the rest of their sports.
Miller contends that the new all-comers format and RPI system for seeding state tournaments provides an easier path to move a team up a classification because playoff qualification is no longer determined on a team's region finish.
So in this case, LCA offered to stay in its current 2A region to appease potential scheduling qualms but play in the 3A state tournament and take an RPI hit by playing 2A schools.
But a few years ago, the UHSAA did away with mixed-classification regions (ask Pine View High's football teams in 2007 and 2008 how that worked out, they'll have a lot to say about it).