Both Augusta Prep and Westminster will stay in the Georgia Independent School Association, even as it looks like the organization will be losing members again.
“We’re staying put,” Augusta Prep athletic director Tom Holodak said.
“It’s sad to see them go – they’re good schools,” Westminster athletic director Andrew Bryan said. “But leaving is not a consideration right now. I don’t want to say it’s totally off the table forever and ever, but it’s not on our radar right now.”
Mount de Sales Academy, Stratford Academy and Tattnall Square Academy recently voted to leave for the Georgia High School Association, starting with the 2014-15 school year. The schools are in GISA’s Class AAA, the highest level, with Augusta Prep and Westminster. April 1 is the deadline for private schools to apply for GHSA membership for the next reclassification period.
Westminster and Augusta Prep athletic directors say a move wasn’t even strongly considered.
Of the two, only Westminster shares a region with the three schools looking to exit, and that’s just in football.
Non-region scheduling continues to be an issue for all schools, especially because GHSA schools can’t play GISA schools. However, Augusta Prep and Westminster are close enough to other local Georgia private institutions and South Carolina schools, too.
Holodak said the school does its best to limit travel problems. For example, longer trips can be saved for weekend games, while contests against closer schools can be held on school nights. Those setups may lower gate receipts — a Westminster-Augusta Prep game on a Friday or Saturday would be big for the home school — but it does ease travel worries.
The GHSA and GISA face the task of figuring out region alignment/reclassification. Both Bryan and Holodak said it’s possible the GISA could go from three classes to two. In that situation, the two schools could be in the same classification as local schools such as Brentwood and Edmund Burke, which would make travel easier.
If Augusta Prep or Westminster does think about a change down the road, it would mean a long process and discussion period, one that involves an advisory committee. But neither school is leaving now.
“Will that ever change? Who knows?” Bryan said. “But for the foreseeable future, I don’t think so.”