MHSAA votes to add new 7A classification

Published 3:07 pm Thursday, April 7, 2022

Mississippi will have seven high school classifications for the 2023-2024 school year after the Mississippi High School Activities Association’s executive committee voted on Thursday to add a class 7A.

The committee voted 12-1 in favor of the new alignment proposal, which places the state’s 24 largest schools in the new 7A classification, the next 24 in the 6A classification and the the next 24 in the 5A classification. Those classifications will include four regions made up of six teams.

Classes 2A through 4A will each be made up of eight regions with five schools each, and Class 1A will divide the remaining schools into eight regions.

“I think it’s gonna be good for all the schools, one through seven,” said Lafayette High School Athletics Director Greg Lewis. “I just think it levels the playing field for a lot of teams.”

“To me, it makes things a little more equitable,” said Oxford High School Co-Activities Director Chris Baughman. “I think when you can make things more equitable and fair for all schools, I mean you’re always going to have a discrepancy from the top end to the bottom end of those schools, but in some of these cases it’s a significant change.”

The move is a welcome change for Lafayette, who will likely become one of the largest schools in 5A under the new classification plan.

“Looking at the numbers, I feel like it puts us, kind of like where we were before, at one of the top schools at the 5A level,” Lewis said. “I don’t think we’ll go into 6A yet, but I think it’s coming.”

The change is not quite as consequential for Oxford, who will still have to contend with the elite schools in the state in the new 7A classification.

“When you look at it from our standpoint it doesn’t change much,” said Baughman. “You’re still gonna have to beat Starkville, you’re still gonna have to beat Tupelo, you’re still gonna have to beat DeSoto Central, and Madison Central, and Clinton and Brandon. Those top-tier teams in 6A are still gonna be your top-tier teams in 7A.”

The biggest change for local schools will be in scheduling.

For example, with six teams in each region, football teams now have to schedule an additional two non-region opponents each season. Similarly, baseball teams will have cut a significant number of non-region games and either continue to play three-game series for region opponents or shift to a home-and-home model.

The new alignment plan will go into effect for the 2023-2024 school year. MHSAA will determine the new classifications this fall when new enrollment numbers are available.