High School Football

SC high school football championship games staying put in Columbia

The South Carolina high school football state championships will remain at Williams-Brice Stadium.

On Tuesday, the S.C. High School League executive committee voted 13-2 in favor of keeping the games there for the 2019 season. The University of South Carolina’s Williams-Brice Stadium has hosted the Class 3A, 4A and 5A games since 2012. The Class A and 2A championships will remain in Columbia at Benedict College.

“It is centralized location that can accommodate Class 3A, 4A and 5A,” executive committee member Sam Tuten said after the vote. “We want to be family friendly to this decision.”

Clemson Director of Recruiting Thad Turnipseed and former Northwestern High head coach Kyle Richardson, a senior offensive assistant with the Tigers, in March presented a proposal to the state’s athletic directors and the executive committee that would revamp the championships and hold them at Memorial Stadium — or possibly rotating with Williams-Brice Stadium every other year. Clemson hosted the state championships in 2008 and 2011.

Some of the proposal’s ideas included how the championship weekend itself can be a better experience for the players and their families, and bring in more revenue for everyone involved. But in the end, the location of Williams-Brice and amount of travel time was the deciding factor for the committee.

“They deliberated and they talked a lot,” SCHSL commissioner Jerome Singleton said. “They weighed everything and the biggest thing was location. I don’t think there was too much different (cost wise). They made the best decision they could.”

The decision stands for the 2019 games only, Singleton said. A vote on 2020 championships will take place next year.

Ideas being considered to elevate the championship weekend experience include: a fan fest; a dedicated room that winning teams can go to and celebrate with their families; and possible luxury boxes that participating schools can utilize.

Realignment up next

The executive committee voted 15-0 to keep the S.C. High School League at five classifications for the 2020-22 realignment. Five classifications have been in effect since 2016-17 school year.

Realignment determines a school’s overall classification, first and foremost, and historically teams’ placement into regions are based on such factors as enrollment size and proximity to each other.

The process will use the 45-day enrollment number from each school in the fall semester of the 2019-20 year.

In the past, the SCHSL came up with the parameters for realignment. But this year, a classification guidelines committee will determine the criteria. The eight-member committee will have two members each from superintendents, principals, athletic directors and coaches.

“It will give everyone a little more involvement,” Singleton said. “In the past, they would share what they thought the guidelines should be with the (SCHSL) staff and the staff took it into consideration. Now, the membership will have representatives that can sit down and discuss it collectively. And these will be the guidelines.”

Singleton hopes to have the 45-day numbers in by Dec. 2 and then a realignment proposal to give to schools by Dec. 16. From there, schools would be able to appeal their placement with the final 2020-22 realignment in place by late February.