The 2016-17 school year will be the 29th since “cooperative programs” were first approved for MHSAA member high schools; and in that first year, it was but a modest step: two or more MHSAA member high schools whose combined enrollment did not exceed the maximum for a Class D school (then 297) could jointly sponsor a team. The intent, of course, was to help our very smallest member schools generate enough participants to have a viable program in one or more sports that was of interest to some of their students.
Over the years, the cooperative program concept has expanded to member schools of larger enrollment and to member junior high/middle schools. As of April 7, 2016, there were 260 cooperative programs at the high school level involving 450 teams, as well as 88 cooperative programs at the junior high/middle school level for 331 teams.
During the 2016-17 school year, there will be two new opportunities for MHSAA member schools to consider with respect to cooperative programs.
First, cooperative programs will be an explicitly stated option at the subvarsity level in any sport.
Second, maximum enrollments have been eliminated to help public multi-high-school districts start and complete competitive seasons in communities that have struggled to sustain programs in baseball, bowling, girls competitive cheer, cross country, golf, soccer, girls softball, tennis and wrestling. This is a three-year experiment.
It is declining enrollment more than a desire to save money that the MHSAA Executive Committee looks for when approving cooperative programs. Combining enrollments to create new or preserve existing programs is the intent; cooping to reduce expenditures is not.
From the Director is the official MHSAA Blog which will touch on pertinent school sports topics periodically throughout the school year from various MHSAA Staff.