NIAA realigns high school athletics by creating Class 5A in 2018

Nevada high schools are realigning once again, and this time with a new classification.

The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association’s board of control voted Thursday to create a new 5A classification, which will go into effect when realignment occurs for the 2018-2019 school year.

Football will be classified separately, so schools that move to Class 5A for all other sports may not necessarily move for football.

Specifics on which schools will change classifications are expected to be made at the next board of control meeting on June 19. The new classification will be in effect for two years.

Southern Nevada schools with an enrollment of 1,301 students or more will be either in Class 4A or 5A depending on rubric points, which take into account postseason success. Either 4A or 5A will have only Southern schools, depending on which classification the Northern Region’s current Class 4A schools decide to join.

The aim is for both 3A leagues to have about 10 teams. Whichever class the current 4A Northern Region schools join, either 4A or the new 5A, will aim for about 12 schools in each league. The remainder of current 3A and 4A schools (about 16-18 Southern schools) will make up whichever class the Northern schools do not join.

The Southern Nevada-only league will act the same as all the others, with its own state championship. Class 5A will be the biggest league, but because it has no Northern component, it will be the smallest classification in total number of schools.

That class will have the largest amount of Southern Nevada schools, so that there is a big enough field to create an exclusive state tournament.

There currently are 12 3A Southern Region schools, and nine in the North. There are 12 4A Northern Region schools, 14 Sunset Region schools and 12 in the Sunrise Region.

The fifth classification was created to help protect rural schools with larger enrollments, such as Moapa Valley, Virgin Valley and Boulder City. It prevents larger, in-city schools that did not do as well in the 4A rubric from dropping down and dominating 3A.

“This all stems from the 3A needing a viable league, and having equal representation with its counterpart in the north,” NIAA assistant director Donnie Nelson said. “I think it protects the integrity of the Class 3A league.”

But Nelson said there are reasons to be skeptical as well.

“We’re not that big of a state. Having five classifications doesn’t make sense,” Nelson said. “It does for the rubric, not for the number of schools.”

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Contact Justin Emerson at or (702) 387-2944. Follow @J15Emerson on Twitter.