Questions arise from some track coaches after proposal voted down by GHSA

Runners bolt at the start of the boys 1600 meter during the Region 7-AAAAAAA track meet Tuesday at Parkview High School. (Staff Photo: Taylor Denman)

Most of the handful of issues brought before the Georgia High School Association’s Executive Committee at its fall meeting Monday in Macon didn’t gain much attention outside of those in attendance.

However, one vote did raise some eyebrows among several track and field coaches around the state, including in Gwinnett County.

A proposal that would have added the 3,200-meter relay for all classifications of the boys and girls region, sectional and state track and field championship meets was initially approved for recommendation by a 7-3 vote of the GHSA’s Board of Trustees during the meeting of the subcommittees Sunday.

But when the proposal was brought up before a vote of the full executive committee during Monday’s meeting, the measure was voted down 43-21, which has several coaches wondering why.

While the official minutes of Monday’s meeting are not expected to be available until Tuesday, sources who attended the meeting say there was a brief discussion of the proposal in advance of the vote of the full executive committee, which is made up of representatives from each region, as well as several other at-largee members.

During that discussion prior to the vote, concerns were raised about the length of time the event would add on to each postseason meet, according to those same sources.

“There was a lot of work put in on the proposal over the last six months,” said one Gwinnett County track and field coach, who requested anonymity. “All the (GHSA) schools in Georgia were surveyed. About 300 schools responded, including at least one school in every region in every classification. Several different (issues) were included (in the survey), including the (3,200 relay) proposal, which the coaches were in favor of by a 2-1 margin. The Board of Trustees voted in favor of it 7-3, but it was voted down by the full committee.

“I know there are some at-large votes, but there’s basically one vote per region (that makes up the majority of the Executive Committee). By any count, there should’ve been between 37 and 42 votes for (the proposal) and about 15 to 20 against it, if the region representatives voted the way their coaches expressed (in the survey). … Yet a couple of people get up and talked (the full committee) out of it. The numbers don’t add up.”

What has many of the state’s coaches disappointed with the results, according to the anonymous coach, is that adding the event would allow more student-athletes to not only have an opportunity to run in the state meet who might not otherwise have that chance, but also allow those runners to be seen by college recruiters.

“The (3,200 relay) is run by 42 states (in their respective state meets),” the anonymous coach said. “Georgia is one of only eight states that doesn’t run it in its state meet. (Monday’s vote was) not what the state (and its coaches) want.”

The 3,200 relay proposal was the only such proposal approved by its subcommittee that was not also approved by the full Executive Committee on Monday.

Among those measures that did pass include one that will nearly double the number of athletes qualifying for the Class A (Public and Private) state track meets by eliminating those classifications’ sectional meet, and allowing the top four qualifiers from each area to qualify for state in those classes only.

Other measures passing Monday including language changes in a few by-laws dealing with eligibility issues following transfers, plus changing the time frame for penalties for schools that don’t show up to or cancels a contest without an emergency or weather-related conditions and a proposal limiting football teams to just three team contact camps covering six days in total each summer.

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Graduated from GSU in 1990. Have worked in sports journalism for the past 28 years, covering a variety of sports at the Gwinnett Daily News, AJC, Lafayette (La.) Daily Advertiser and Marietta Daily Journal before returning to Gwinnett at the Post in 2007.