Is it Time for Private Schools to Have Their Own Separate Class?


        Should private schools be able to compete on the same playing field as public schools in the state tournament?  That question often arises after each state tournament is completed.  Although this issue is not as dominant when it gets to the bigger schools in their state tournament, it seems that private schools are always competing in the state finals for the smaller classes.  The classes I’m talking about are not normal school classes, it is the schooling class that the state gives each sporting team based on their enrollment.  There are few private schools in the larger classes because most private schools limit their enrollment so they fall into the smaller classes for the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA).  The few private schools that have enough students to compete at the larger class levels are still competitive but show nowhere near the level of dominance that the smaller private schools do.  This was proven last year in the IHSAA state finals for baseball.  Last year, five out of the eight state finalist teams were private schools.  Furthermore, three of the four state champions were private schools.  In basketball we saw much of the same as half of the state finalist teams were private schools.  Football in Indiana is slightly different than the other sports.  Football is broken up into six classes rather than four.  Very few private schools are big enough to be classified as 5a or 6a schools.  Even so, five of the twelve state finalists in football were still private.  


        The next obvious question would be how many private schools are there compared to public schools?  If there is the same amount of private schools as there are public schools, then it makes sense why there are so many private schools in the state championships year after year.  That is not the case though.  Out of 682 high schools in Indiana only 127 are private schools.  18% of the schools in Indiana are private.  During the 2021-2022 school year 50% of the schools in football, baseball, and boys basketball were private.  The numbers don’t lie, there is definitely an issue when 18% of the schools in the state are able to make up 50% of the schools who make it to the state championship.  When will the IHSAA recognize the obvious advantage that the private schools have?  They are able to choose who can attend their school.  Also, they have the opportunity to recruit students from across the country for their talents academically and athletically.  This is completely different from the rules public schools must follow.  Private schools get to choose who can attend, while public schools must accept everyone within their district.  Private schools recruiting is different from colleges.  They do not give out athletic scholarships but they have partnerships with alumni, businesses, and community members to help pay for student;s tuition.  The average price of tuition for those private schools that competed for state championships last year was around 14,000 dollars.  How are public schools supposed to be able to compete when private schools are raking in sums of money to build top notch facilities and don’t have to follow the same enrollment rules as public schools.  Many states like Loisania have improvised and decided the gap between private and public schools was so wide that they created a separate class for them.  They allow them to compete against public schools during the regular season, but they must compete against one another during playoffs.  


        I ask the question again, is it time for private schools to have their separate class?  The numbers support making a change.