BY DAVID MCCOLLUM
LOG CABIN STAFF WRITER
NORTH LITTLE ROCK -- Conway and North Little Rock will be a nonconference contest during the next reclassification cycle.
On the final day of their summer workshop Thursday, the Arkansas Activities Association's board of directors placed North Little Rock in the 7A-East Conference for 2010-2011. Conway will remain in the Central Conference.
Because of economic and travel concerns, 7A and 6A officials had recommended that the two classifications of the largest schools in the state be combined and divided geographically into four, eight-team divisions for conference play for the next cycle, then be divided by the size of the school for state playoff purposes.
Conway will be in the Central Conference with Russellville, Van Buren and the Little Rock Schools. North Little Rock will move East with Cabot, Jacksonville and Searcy plus Jonesboro, Marion, Mountain Home and West Memphis.
"It looked like they went down I-40 past Conway and hung a right," said Kevin Danaher, North Little Rock's athletic director. "It works out well for the Little Rock schools that are clustered together. I'm not as concerned about football because we're not traveling to every school every year and we can work out the scheduling arrangements for teams that are farther away. In sports like basketball, softball and baseball, where you have a home-and-home and you're have to make the long trips to schools every season, that won't help our travel budget. It's a lot more travel for us in those sports."
Bryant, currently in 7A-Central, will move to the South Conference.
AAA officials are setting up an appeals process for early fall. Danaher said Thursday he didn't know whether he would appeal.
The NLR athletic director said Conway, a close rivalry that provides high attendance in almost all sports, will remain on the schedule.
"We'll keep playing Conway," he said. "We had sort of anticipated something like this happening and we've kept the second playing date (in football) open for Conway in case we were moved. But Little Rock Catholic is also a longtime, big rival for us and a big money game and we'll have to try to work something out about that."
The playoff structure, where the schools will be divided into two 16-team divisions by enrollment of the schools (separating 7A and 6A) will be worked out later by AAA officials in coordination with administrators of the largest schools in the state.
"That's not going to be an easy thing," said Lance Taylor, executive director of the AAA. "The question will be how do you seed teams who don't play each other for playoff purposes?"
The new conference arrangements for 7A and 6A that will be in effect beginning in 2011 are as follows:
CENTRAL: Conway, Little Rock Catholic, Little Rock Central, LR Hall, LR Fair, LR Parkview, Russellville and Van Buren.
EAST: North Little Rock, Cabot, Jacksonville, Jonesboro, Marion, Mountain Home, Searcy and West Memphis.
SOUTH: Benton, Bryant, El Dorado, Lake Hamilton, LR McClellan, Pine Bluff, Sheridan and Texarkana.
WEST: Bentonville, Fayetteville, Har-Ber, Rogers Heritage, Rogers, Fort Northside, FS Southside and Springdale.