For the 2017 season, the Wyoming High School Activities Association will allow football teams to schedule their own nonconference games.
The WHSAA will continue to schedule conference games for programs statewide.
WHSAA Commissioner Ron Laird said via email the schools were struggling with the expanded travel created by the WHSAA schedules.
“We have had more and more complaints about the non-conference travel each year,” Laird said. “We have been told that some of the schools would like to play a larger school’s lower level team instead of traveling across the state.”
Since 2001, the WHSAA has scheduled football games in Weeks 1-8 for all schools. Since 2006, schools in the 3A through 1A classifications could schedule their own Zero Week opponents; 4A schools could do the same from 2006-08.
The WHSAA’s takeover of scheduling in 2001 was tied to the group’s implementation of power ratings for playoff qualification. For the power ratings to work, and to give every team a full schedule of games, the WHSAA took over scheduling of games that year.
Power ratings were eliminated prior to the 2009 season. However, the WHSAA maintained control over scheduling, even though it had previously volunteered to give that responsibility back to the schools. WHSAA scheduling gave programs a full schedule of varsity opponents, but often at the cost of extended travel.
A 2014 evaluation by this site found teams across the state were traveling further to play in games that were not as competitive.
Laird said schools would have no restrictions on their nonconference scheduling. The statewide scheduling meeting will be Nov. 15-16 in Casper.
The 10-school Class 4A plays a round-robin schedule, and as such, the WHSAA will continue to create the entire 4A season schedule.
In 2017, Thunder Basin High School’s opening in Gillette as a Class 4A school will shift classifications and conference alignments for several schools. For football, Evanston will move to the 3A West and Big Horn will go to the 1A 11-man East. Lingle will also be eligible for the 1A six-man playoffs next season.