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WIAA approves fifth division
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Area basketball coaches and athletic directors aren't convinced the WIAA Board of Control's unanimous decision to add a fifth division to the state basketball tournament next winter will solve the private school debate.

The WIAA Board of Control voted 10-0 Thursday in Green Lake to implement a fifth division in basketball next season. One of the driving forces for adding a fifth division was the dominance of private schools. Private schools have won the last seven Division 3 boys basketball state championships.

As a result of the decision, Monroe will go from being a big fish in the Division 2 field to being a small fish in a large pond. Monroe will stay in Division 2 for basketball, but will have to contend with larger schools including Waunakee, Stoughton and DeForest that have played in Division 1.

Monroe boys basketball coach Pat Murphy questioned the urgency of pushing the five-division model when the WIAA put plans for a football district proposal on hold after traveling concerns.

"To me, basketball is getting way too much attention," Murphy said. "Maybe it's because it (basketball) is on TV and makes money for the WIAA. When a lot of people draw attention to something, people tend to find something wrong with it. I don't know if it addresses the private school issue."

Three area schools ,including Brodhead, Darlington and New Glarus, are expected to see their divisional placements changed for basketball next year. It's the first time the divisional placement structure has changed since 1991 when a fourth division was added.

Monroe does play in the Badger South Conference with Stoughton, but hasn't had to face the challenge of playing the Vikings a third time in the postseason.

"We went from a big school in Division 2 that the boys and girls have benefited from getting to state to now a small school in Division 2," Murphy said. "You can argue it will be an even bigger challenge."

The Basketball Coaches Advisory Committee voted 5-3 to reject the five-division proposal in April with some concerned the Division 1 state tournament that features eight teams now would be scaled back to four teams. The WIAA Sports Advisory Committee voted 8-5 in favor of the five- division proposal last week.

"There was not consensus," Murphy said, citing the Basketball Coaches Advisory Committee's vote to reject the plan.

Brodhead has played in Division 2 the last several years and is projected to play in Division 3 next year. Darlington and New Glarus, which have been Division 3 schools, are proposed to play in Division 4 next season.

Brodhead girls basketball coach Brad Pickett said the school with an enrollment of about 400 will have to play its best basketball in March.

"It will definitely shakeup some of our local rivalries," Pickett said. "I think no matter what division you fall into there will be good teams. It helps us a little bit getting away from Monroe."

Darlington Athletic Director Brian Bennett isn't sure the five-division model will eliminate concerns of private schools dominating the state tournament.

"I'm not sure if it will completely solve the private school issue," Bennett said.

One of the biggest changes will come in Division 1 where the teams that advance to state will be cut back from eight to four under the five-division proposal. Every school in Division 1 will be assigned one of eight sectionals for the tournament. A Super Tuesday will be added that matches up sectionals to play for a berth to state.

"I think it will give some smaller Division 1 teams a chance to get to the state level," Bennett said. "They are kind of shut out by the larger schools now. I think there is some equity there."

New Glarus boys basketball coach Travis Sysko is looking forward to the change.

"I think it's a positive for New Glarus," Sysko said. "I think it creates some equity. I never understood why Division 1 had eight schools at state and the other three divisions got four."

In the five-division proposal, 12 of the 20 schools that make runs to the state tournament next year will be schools with an enrollment of 600 or less.

"It will be exciting for a whole lot of smaller schools who haven't been to state before," Murphy said.

Black Hawk girls basketball coach Mike Flanagan said it won't change the Warriors' situation at all.

The schools including Black Hawk, Pecatonica, Juda, Albany, Monticello and Argyle in the Six Rivers East Conference will be in Division 5.

"I don't know if it addresses the bigger issues out there - namely the public vs. private," Flanagan said. "I think the WIAA thought they had to do something because people were not satisfied with the way things were."

Flanagan said Black Hawk's sectional will remain intact in Division 5 and Newman Catholic will remain a top private school contender.

"I don't think it benefits or hurts us in any way," Flanagan said.