Football advisory committee discussions center around reclassification, rule changes

The SDHSAA football advisory committee met Monday for open discussion.


PIERRE — Reclassification shook up South Dakota high school football in 2021, and its poised to do it again.

The South Dakota High School Activities Association realigned football classes last winter in line with its normal two-year cycle, but in an attempt to get on the same reclassification schedules as neighboring states Nebraska and North Dakota, it's doing it again 12 months later.

While the average daily membership figures used for classifying schools into one of seven class were collected by the state in late September, the final numbers have not been made available to the SDHSAA yet, according to assistant executive director Randy Soma.

The biggest change comes to how half-time or part-time students are counted. Previously, students who did not attend full-time were figured in as parts of a whole, but they’ll now be counted the same as full-time students.

“It’s now a census count,” SDHSAA executive director Dan Swartos explained. “If you have a half-time student, that counts as one, because he does not play half-time football for you.”


Swartos noted this change for football classification only, and has no impact on the enrollment numbers used to determine education funding.


Video booth reviews were briefly discussed given their relatively recent addition to championship contests in multiple sports, with the general consensus being that they were implemented successfully in the 2021 football title games.

“I know some of them took a little longer, but we got the right call,” Soma said.

Officials representative Andy Deinert, of Mitchell, brought up the travel some officials are asked to do throughout the season and how the current policy only calls for the driver to get compensated for the travel.

“Riding time is consistently a pain point with officials,” Deinert said. “My crew worked more of the [Class] 11AA and 11AAA games. We’re kind of centrally located which is good, but we still have a lot of hours and miles on the road.”

Deinert added that he and many of his fellow officials have to take time off from work in order to make it to their destinations in time.

“When we talk about recruitment and retainment of officials … I understand it’s adding money to a budget and that’s not what everyone likes to do, but I think if they’re taking off time from work they need to be compensated for ride time too, not just the person driving,” said principal and superintendent representative Derek Barrios from Elk Point-Jefferson.

Proposed rule changes

The committee unanimously approved a coach’s box extending from 15-yard line to 15-yard line — which had been implemented due to COVID-19 — with an exception.


There was concern that such a permanent rule change would impact South Dakota’s place within the National Federation of State High School Associations, so the proposal passed pending confirmation that such a change would have no impact on NFHS eligibility.

“I vote yes if we don’t lose a vote in the NFHS,” said Sioux Falls Roosevelt coach Kim Nelson. “It’s not worth losing that.”

Proposals to add bonus seed points to Class 11AA schools who play up against Class 11AAA and subtract seed points from those schools playing down to Class 11A opposition as well as allowing Dakota Valley Conference schools (Arlington/Lake Preston, Colman-Egan, De Smet and Elkton-Lake Benton, among others) to limit the number of games played outside of the conference both died for lack of a motion.

Referees stand on the sideline prior to a 2018 SDHSAA state championship football game at the DakotaDome in Vermillion. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Dierks covers prep and collegiate athletics across the Mitchell Republic's coverage region area, focusing on Mitchell High School football and boys basketball and area high school football, volleyball and basketball, as well as Dakota Wesleyan women's basketball. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Gridiron Spotlight, producing video and providing live play-by-play for the traveling weekly prep football broadcast during its first season in the fall of 2021. Dierks is a Mitchell native who graduated from South Dakota State University with his bachelor's degree in journalism in May 2020. He joined the Mitchell Republic sports staff in August 2021. He can be reached at and found on Twitter at @LDierksy.
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