published Sunday, May 18th, 2014

Change within GHSA gives hope for public/private split

On the surface all is quiet on the possibility of a complete public/private school split in Georgia. Behind the scenes is a different story and one that could play out over the next two-year classification cycle.

"There's not a lot to report right now," said Dade County athletic director and football coach Bradley Warren, who is the Region 7-AA representative for the GHSA. "Anything I say at this point would be pure speculation, but what I can say for certain is that there will be a lot of things discussed on that topic. We're not as far along as Tennessee is on the subject."

However, change is in the air within the GHSA. Executive director Ralph Swearngin is retiring in July, with Gary Phillips taking over. Glen White, the principal at Model High School (which is in Region 7-AA), will be the new GHSA president, and the organization's executive committee, where the bulk of major decisions are made, will look decidedly different in July with six new members.

Recently passed legislation aimed at the GHSA specifies that members of the executive committee must be employed by a school system.

"Getting new blood within the GHSA is a huge step toward the possibility of getting a public/private split," said Gordon Lee administrator Greg Ellis, a major proponent of the movement. "There were six people on the executive committee that were not in school systems and are now out, including some who have fought the idea of a split. From what I see there is more concern about inequity than before in all classifications."

Ellis's school is moving up to Class AA for the next classification cycle after having the most success in school history the past two years after the GHSA elected to split postseason competition for most sports in Class A. However, private schools are dominating in Classes AA and AAA, where 10 of the 17 championships through the winter season were won by Atlanta-area private schools. In addition, all four finalists in the Class AA baseball tournament are private schools.

"It's obvious there is a problem, but the solution is still in the works," Ellis said. "We would like to see a total split for the postseason in all classes, but there's a lot of work still to be done."

Contact Lindsey Young at or at 423-757-6296.

about Lindsey Young...

Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...

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