The Bryant Board of Education voted on Monday, Oct. 21, to pursue legal action against the Arkansas Activities Association (AAA), the governing body of athletics in the state, in hopes of preventing the conference reassignment for the 2014-16 cycle.
Currently assigned to the 7A/6A-South Conference (Benton, Sheridan, Pine Bluff, El Dorado, Texarkana, Lake Hamilton and Little Rock J.A. Fair), Bryant has been assigned to a revamped Central conference (Conway, Little Rock Catholic, Russellville, Alma, Van Buren, Greenwood and Siloam Springs).
The District decided on legal action after appeals to the AAA were unanimously denied.
The appeal contended that the AAA Board of Directors violated its own policy in making the assignment for the 2014-16 cycle. Section 6, Athletic Conferences, Rule 1 of the 2013-14 AAA Handbook states: “The AAA Board of Directors assigns schools geographically to conferences for each two-year cycle. Schools may be in a conference other than indicated by the location of their county in an activity district. The largest 32 schools shall be assigned geographically to four conferences for regular season play in all applicable sports.”
“It’s our judgment the AAA has violated their realignment policy,” stated Bryant Superintendent Randy Rutherford. “Our athletes are students first. We must protect their education. Such extensive travel by all our teams would take a toll on our finances and would be a huge loss for our community. Their support is vital to our athletic program.”
The new assignment would double travel time and expenses. In the current South Conference, Bryant travels 392.9 total miles one way. The move to the new conference would more than double travel to 855.6 miles one way.
The move to the revamped 7A/6A-Central Conference would have all Bryant student-athletes traveling as far away as Siloam Springs (229 miles), Van Buren (164 miles), Alma and Greenwood (both 156 miles).
“Travel in this conference would cause our students to lose too much instruction, factoring in the loss of classtime and performance the day after returning home late,” explained Rutherford. “Parents of student-athletes would lose time at work and incur travel costs. Not to mention our transportation costs would double. Band, cheer and dance teams would not be able to participate in the away games.”