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The UIL will change the playoff format for all volleyball, basketball, soccer, baseball and softball seasons come the 2024-2025 season. The postseason bracket will be split into two divisions for the district playoff qualifiers separated by enrollments.
Daily Record photo by Gerald Castillo

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The changes to the postseason format has seen mixed reviews from some of the coaches with the positives being playing against schools of a similar size and the negatives being no more regional tournaments being played at one site.
Daily Record photo by Gerald Castillo

UIL makes historic changes to playoff structure

Divisional split set for non-football teams from 6A through 1A
Thursday, June 13, 2024

Divisional split set for non-football teams from 6A through 1A

UIL has passed a proposal that would split the postseason play into two divisions for Volleyball, Basketball, Soccer, Baseball and Softball. If approved by the Commissioner of Education, the proposal will go into effect this upcoming season.

Similarly in 6A football, the top four teams in each of the 32 districts qualify for the playoffs. Of the four teams, the two schools with the largest enrollments will play in Division 1 and the two schools with the smallest enrollments will play Division II.

“It does equal the numbers for some people,” Athletic Director and Head Football Coach John Walsh said. “I’ve always been at a school where we are a little 6A or a big 5A, so you are not doubled up on enrollment when competing against someone for state championships. I’ve seen what it has done for many kids and coaches who had the opportunity to win state championships, so I think it is a great move.”

While the new playoff format has seen mixed reviews, some of the San Marcos head coaches do see the benefits of the split.

“My initial thought is I’m excited that there are going to be 12 State Champions,” Boys Basketball Head Coach Dan Miller said. “Everyone is going to have a better chance at making the state championship game. That is a good thing for such a large state.”

Softball Head Coach Cathy Stoughton still has mixed feelings about the divisional split but pointed out the positives.

“I’m mixed on it, but I think it will be a good thing,” Stoughton said. “For us in San Marcos, we will always be on the small end of 6A when competing against schools with much higher enrollments, especially in the playoffs. It might level the playing field going that route.”

San Marcos currently competes in Class 6A District 29 following UIL Realignment. In the district, San Marcos is paired with Buda Johnson, Cibolo Steele, Converse Judson, East Central, New Braunfels Canyon and Schertz Clemens with the Rattlers having the second smallest enrollment at 2,505 students.

With San Marcos having the second smallest enrollment in the district, the Rattlers are guaranteed to play in the Division II bracket come the playoffs.

“It does make a difference,” Miller said. “If anyone has had a real special team like us two years ago, baseball in 2022 or football in two years, it’s still going to be a tough road, but you are going to avoid the Westlakes and the schools that have the huge enrollments. It gives you a more fair fight in the tournament.”

But there are some downsides to the division split some coaches have noticed.

Because of the amount of playoff games added to the postseason schedule, the regional tournament will no longer be hosted at one site, and the state semi-finals will not be played at the state championship sites.

The loss of region tournaments and not playing the state semifinal games at the state champion sites has been a negative for some coaches.

“What is going to take time getting used to is not having a true regional tournament,” Miller said. “Having coached both here in San Marcos and at Katy Seven Lakes, regionals is a special neutral arena setting for basketball and that is going to be taken away a little bit.”

In the sport of softball, Stoughton touched upon how the divisional split may not have an effect on the teams involved.

“The one thing about softball is that you see strong teams at every level,” Stoughton said. “The difference between softball and any other sport including baseball is that if you have a pitcher, you are in good shape. One dominant player can carry you. … So softball is still going to be competitive all the way up. I don’t know if the divisions can make a difference and they might in some instances, but we just have to wait and see.”

But with the change to the playoff structure coming sooner rather than later, San Marcos looks to embrace them.

“Just like anything else in 2024 when it comes to NIL or transfer portal, there are going to be changes that you have to adapt to,” Miller said. “We will adapt and embrace [the changes].”

cmcwilliams Twitter: @ColtonBMc



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Enrollments of the 6A District 29 Schools

SA East Central: 3,542 Buda Johnson: 2,815 Cibolo Steele: 2,769 Schertz Clemens: 2,648 Converse Judson: 2,518 San Marcos: 2,505 New Braunfels Canyon: 2,433

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