1/27/2013 6:01:00 AM Kingman Academy must clear hurdles for AIA membership Tigers hope to join Lee Williams High, Kingman High in association
The Kingman Academy Tigers will find out soon if the athletic success they have enjoyed in the Charter Athletic Association can be duplicated in the Arizona Interscholastic Association. KAHS is seeking membership in the AIA.
When the Arizona Interscholastic Association announced its final section placements this week, there was one additional school set to join beginning this fall.
But while the path has been cleared for KAHS to leave the Charter Athletic Association and join the AIA, there are still two major hurdles that could derail the Tigers' move - facilities and the budget.
"They approved a full membership but they haven't inspected the facilities," said KAHS athletic director Shawn Byrne. "They are supposed to come and inspect our playing surfaces and see if it meets their standards. They could come up here and recommend that we have to invest."
The major hurdle that could stand in KAHS' way is the basketball court. The Tigers play their games on a tile floor in an area that also serves as the school's cafeteria.
Speculation has always been that the AIA requires schools to play basketball on a wood floor, an upgrade that could cost the school anywhere between $35,000 to $100,000. However, Byrne said he has recently heard that there was no requirement for a wood floor.
"It's one of the reasons why we wanted them to come up here and inspect the facilities, to get those questions answered," Byrne said.
Besides the basketball court, another question regarding facilities is Southside Park, where the Tigers play football and baseball. The KAHS softball team plays at Centennial Park and Byrne knows that facility will be fine - that's where Kingman High used to play and still holds its annual tournament there.
The other major hurdle standing in the way is the cost. Kingman High School and Lee Williams High School are part of the Kingman Unified School District and have access to other sources of funding, such as property taxes and the ability to hold bond elections to improve facilities. KAHS doesn't have that option. It's major source of funding comes from the Arizona State Legislature.
Because of this, the school's athletic teams have to do fundraisers throughout the year in order to cover the costs of travel, officials, uniforms and other needs. The girls and boys basketball teams also schedule the games with the same opponent at the same location in order to reduce costs. The AIA does the exact opposite. If the Kingman High girls are hosting Yuma Cibola, the boys are traveling to Yuma Cibola the same day.
"We are used to having the girls and boys on the same bus," Byrne said.
Byrne, in his second year at the school, said he found documents dating back to 2009 dealing with the school's possible move to the AIA. However, over the last few years the calls for action have increased proportionally with the number of CAA opponents who have forfeited games rather than make the three-hour trip to Kingman.
KAHS girls basketball coach Dave Scroggins has always been proponent of the Tigers staying in the CAA, but that changed when South Ridge announced it was forfeiting rather than coming to Kingman next Saturday. KAHS had scheduled its annual cancer fundraiser, a wildly successful event in recent years, on that night.
"This was the straw that broke the camel's back," he said. "That really left a bad taste in my mouth. One year the team didn't come to our football homecoming. Last year they didn't come up for the playoffs. If we went AIA, I would have no problems with it."
If the Tigers do make the move they would be placed in Division IV for cross country and volleyball, Division V for football and Division III for basketball, baseball and softball.
The move would also create some interesting matchups. The Tigers would be in the same section as Lee Williams High in football.
"We can do a lot in Kingman that we can't do right now," Byrne said.
KAHS could also take on Division II Kingman High in baseball, basketball and softball. "That would be cool," KAHS boys basketball coach Bryant Morrison said. "It would be something to talk about it. It would be packed."
Morrison is not a stranger to the AIA after coaching in Peach Springs before becoming the Tigers boys basketball coach this year. But like Scroggins, he's concerned about the school being able to afford it. No matter what, Morrison said his players would answer the call.
"These boys will do whatever it takes to play basketball," Morrison said. "I think it teaches them a lot of character. You don't see a lot of high school boys at 8 a.m. at a house in Valle Vista picking weeds for money. It's not for them, it's for our team."