A proposal to realign leagues and conferences was shot down unexpectedly by the City Section Interscholastic Athletics Committee on Monday.
After about 90 minutes of discussion, IAC members voted against the realignment proposal, 12-9, with four voters abstaining.
The City's 49 high schools and 13 magnet schools therefore may stay in the same alignments for at least the 1998-99 season.
"I was surprised [it wasn't approved] based on the amount of conversation from last October until now," Commissioner Barbara Fiege said. "Some schools did have a problem with it, but the majority of schools did not."
Because it was the first meeting of the school year, some of the members who abstained had not spoken with everyone they represented and were uncomfortable taking a stand, Fiege said.
Members of IAC, the governing body of the City Section, each represent different factions of administrators, coaches and community groups. IAC will not take up the subject again until its next scheduled meeting, Oct. 27.
Time is critical, Fiege said.
"If the releaguing committee [came up with another proposal to submit to IAC], I do not see how that could be implemented for the 1998-99 school year," she said.
Fiege said three scenarios could result: IAC could ask the releaguing committee to come up with another proposal, the committee could be asked to solve particular problems that are present in the current conference configurations, or the conference configurations would remain status quo.
City Section officials are seeking to change the current alignment--six two-league conferences--which has caused more problems than it has solved in the past 10 years. For example, in the past some conferences were all in one division while others were split into 4-A and 3-A leagues.
On the recommendation of IAC, a releaguing committee was formed nearly a year ago in October to review the current structure of the six conferences. The releaguing committee studied different proposals for six months before coming up with what it considered a winner: a nine-league configuration.
The goal of the committee is to group schools by geography, to preserve rivalries and maintain balance within a league.
The current conference alignments have caused confusion and frustration among coaches and playoff seeding committees for a decade.
Another flaw in the current configuration that the releaguing committee hopes to remedy deals with the Southeastern Conference, which has nine teams. The other five conferences have eight teams. Southeastern coaches and officials have requested relief from what they say is a scheduling hindrance.