Marion, Canistota to co-op in 2014-15 year for basketball
PIERRE — Marion’s high school has only four boys available for basketball in the coming season unless an eighth-grade student’s parents would allow him to be on varsity.
The two juniors and two seniors will play as members of Canistota’s team instead as the result of a hardship ruling made Tuesday by the South Dakota High School Activities Association’s board of directors.
The state board’s ruling Tuesday allows Canistota to remain a Class B school for 2014-15 even though the enrollment of the two schools would temporarily push Canistota up into Class A.
Officials for the two schools told the state board they don’t want to go through the difficulties of arranging a Class A schedule for one year in 2014-15 because they expect they will be in Class B a year later under their new cooperative.
Marion and Canistota have a five-year agreement to operate as a cooperative for high school sports starting with the 2015-16 academic year.
The state board’s vote was 4-2 in favor of the hardship finding. The association’s staff recommended against making the accommodation as a matter of consistency.
But several directors pointed out class accommodations already allowed for other schools in soccer and football.
Further complicating the matter was a classification rule that was misprinted in the association’s current handbook. While wrong, it made the Marion-Canistota attempt to stay at Class B during the interim look permissible.
All of those facts helped director Jason Uttermark, of Aberdeen Central High School, reach his decision to support the hardship exception. “For some reason, it feels OK,” he said.
Marion superintendent Terry Winegar personally appealed to the state board. He said the cooperative contract includes a $50,000 penalty if either school backs out down the road.
“I’m standing up here for my four children in my school,” he said.