Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Single-Class Hoop Dreams On Hold Again


    Hinkle Fieldhouse, home of Butler University basketball, hosted Indiana's high school basketball tournament from 1928 to 1942, and again from 1946 to 1971. The legendary 1954 Milan High School team won its state championship in this gym. The 1986 film "Hoosiers," based on Milan's run, was also filmed here.

    The governing organization for Indiana high school sports issued a report Friday throwing cold water on the debate over returning to a single-class state basketball tournament.

    At 11 statewide meetings held by the IHSAA to study a proposal by Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, more than two-thirds of the 514 attendees voiced their support for returning to the format — in which small and large schools vied for a single state title — that made Indiana high school basketball legendary.

    But the report also noted a vast majority of more than 7,200 current coaches, players, principals and athletic directors favor the current multi-class system. 

    “While there still exists a segment of Hoosier citizens that would support a return to a single-class basketball format for the Indiana High School Athletic Association and its membership, that same membership has once again demonstrated strong support for the current multiple class format,” the report concluded.

    It’s hard to underestimate the pull of nostalgia in the debate over single class basketball. Bobby Plump, whose game-winning shot lifted tiny Milan High School over Muncie Central in the legendary 1954 state final, told WFIU’s Noon Edition in May that Indiana should return to the old format.

    “The people of Indiana have voted with their feet that they like the single-class tournament better,” Plump said.

    But as we noted last February, the old format overwhelmingly favored the big schools. Other than Milan, no school with fewer than 500 students won a state championship under the single-class format, which Indiana abandoned after the 1997 season.


    The high school basketball team from tiny Milan famously beat much bigger teams to capture Indiana's state championship in the days of single-class basketball.

    Sen. Mike Delph proposed the return to single-class basketball, but ultimately dropped the proposal from a bill in the General Assembly after IHSAA Commissioner Bobby Cox agreed to hold the statewide meetings.

    Ben Smith writes in the Journal Gazette:

    This ‘debate’ was dry bones and dust long before state Sen. Mike Delph – R-Carmel, R-1955 – dug it up, so no surprise it fell flat. Delph would have had a better shot digging up Lincoln and Douglas and having them debate slavery again than resurrecting a matter that’s been 15 years in the ground, and that’s the plain truth of it… Class hoops will remain, and only Delph, presumably, was shocked, shocked.

    Your thoughts? Is the debate worth having again?


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