It's a basketball scheduling question many athletic directors have thought about at one time or another: Should j.v. and varsity teams of the same gender be paired together for games, or varsity squads of different genders? This past winter, Hillsborough County (Fla.) Public Schools changed its model--with positive results.
Previously, each high school team's j.v. and varsity squads traveled together to play the same opponents on the same nights. But with a growing number of schools unable to field j.v. teams, the teams that did exist lost playing opportunities.
Now, girls' and boys' varsity travel together and play back-to-back on Tuesday and Friday nights. The j.v. squads compete on Saturdays, with three schools meeting to play two games apiece in a round-robin format.
"At the j.v. level, it took care of our problem with scheduling--each team played 12 games on a total of six Saturdays," says Hillsborough County Athletic Director Lanness Robinson. "It also worked out well at the varsity level. Our girls played in front of larger crowds because they were paired with the boys' teams, and that was great for them."
Another benefit was reduced travel expenses. "With j.v. playing two games each Saturday, we could schedule them against nearby schools and parents often just drove their kids, so we didn't need to use many buses," Robinson says. "The cost savings were really significant."
The district is planning a few refinements to the setup for next year. Girls' varsity always played before boys' this past season, but they'll alternate the earlier start time in 2010-11 to ensure compliance with Title IX. The district may also schedule games on nights other than Tuesday and Friday so the highest-rated officials can work more contests.
"Change always takes getting used to for some people, but overall we were happy with it," Robinson says. "We solved the problem we had with our j.v. schedule and saved some money, too."