The Illinois High School Association this week announced that its member schools narrowly approved a radical change in football competition across the state, starting with the 2021 football season.
Conference play is being abolished, and instead, all member schools will be assigned districts to play in, with the I-H-S-A determining the schedule. Schools can still play 2 games outside of the district, which are now considered non-conference games.
The proposal voted on by member schools, called "Proposal 23", is the I-H-S-A's attempt to make the state football playoffs more equitable, after some member schools were accused of conference hopping to increase their wins, and therefore get a better spot in the state football playoff pairings.
The proposal, called "Proposal 23", passed 324 to 307 with 69 expressing no opinion, directs the I-H-S-A to implement a football scheduling system for regular-season varsity games that would involve a 9-week regular season, and playoff classes determined in advance of the season. Schools from each class will then placed into 8 geographic groups by the I-H-S-A Office to play a round-robin schedule. The remaining games on the regular season schedule are to be arranged by the individual schools at their discretion. The top 4 teams in each of the 8 groups then qualify for the playoffs, based on games played within each group.
The state football playoff system has been a bone of contention between public and private schools for years.