What’s next for the GISA?

dshirley@macon.comJanuary 17, 2014 

Every so often during the past 12 months, I’ve turned to Telegraph high school editor Jonathan Heeter and asked a variation of the same question.

“What’s going to happen to the GISA?”

The look on Heeter’s face usually has been what you might expect from a young puppy that has broken a house rule.

“Don’t look at me.”

As knowledgeable as Heeter is about high school sports in our state, it’s impossible for him to predict what will happen to the GISA.

Even after Mount de Sales, Stratford and Tattnall Square announced early last year that they would be leaving the GISA for the GHSA, the GISA looked to be on solid ground. There were still enough larger schools, Westfield, John Milledge and Deerfield-Windsor, to survive, while the focus of the association probably would turn to its smaller contingent.

But now with many of the smaller schools leaving for the new-ish Georgia Independent Christian Athletic Association, the GISA’s ground is shakier than we thought. And it makes you wonder, how did we get here?

The GISA was strong when I started working in Georgia in 1993, and it has been that way for a lot of the time since then. But things changed a few years back when a trickle of schools began to leave for the GHSA, schools like Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy, Riverside Military Academy and Augusta Christian and others on to the departures of George Walton and FPD.

The trickle became a flood last year when Macon’s other three big private schools decided to join FPD in making the jump. That wasn’t totally unexpected, but what came next was.

The GICAA found an audience with smaller schools that were troubled with the direction of the GISA. Schools that had issues with travel, competition and an overall feeling that they didn’t have a voice with the GISA had another option, and many of them are jumping at that option to join the GICAA.

CFCA is one of those schools, and it will move to the GICAA in all sports. Covenant has looked at playing football in the GICAA and other sports in the GISA, and other schools would like to do the same (that’s still be decided). Windsor has decided to stay in the GISA for all sports. But right now, the GISA’s future looks to be in flux.

Also, the potential for publicly funded charter schools popping up across the state could hurt some smaller GISA schools (that already happened in southwest Georgia to Randolph Southern, which closed last year).

This week, The Telegraph sent out an email to all of our coaches across Middle Georgia asking for their football schedule for the fall. Several of the GISA coaches responded that they couldn’t send in their schedules yet because they don’t know who they’re going to play this season (a scheduling meeting is planned later and will help clear up those issues).

Even the GISA’s coaches don’t know what’s going to happen next.

But really, does anyone know what’s next for the GISA? It’s hard to get a grasp on that after everything that has happened the past year.

Contact Daniel Shirley at 744-4227 or dshirley@macon.com.

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