The below is an email from Commissioner Juliann Tackett regarding Harlan High School’s designation as the host school and naming The Arena in Corbin, Kentucky as the host site.
Harlan High School is excited to be the host school and looks forward to an exciting season High School Boys and Girls Basketball.
The KHSAA Competition Rules for basketball as approved by the Board of Control, as with other sports (http://khsaa.org/handbook/20152016/competitionrules.pdf), specify that the Commissioner shall determine the regional championship sites in all sports. As a general practice, much of this decision is influenced by, but not bound to, the recommendations of local groups including Regional Policy Boards, Principals' Associations, Athletic Directors' Associations, and other entities. The selection must balance not only stipulated criteria contained in the Competition Rules, but also the best interests of all competing schools. Revenue from postseason play is a compelling interest as the proceeds of these events, and their required distribution to all schools in the region, help sustain the overall athletic program in most, if not all, of the schools in the region.
For the last several years, the 13th region schools have requested that the region site be on a rotating basis between districts, with each district coming together to recommend the actual site. Further within that plan that site designation was requested to be rotated among the schools within that specified district, to ensure that extra benefits afforded the regional hosts are rotated among the schools.
For 2017, the normal selection criteria called for Harlan Independent High School and the Harlan Independent schools to review and make a recommendation as to that site. Superintendent Charles D. Morton has done a great deal of research and gathered data regarding past tournaments (to review the required 5-year criteria contained in the competition rules) as well as made thoughtful review of all other circumstances surrounding the tournament. In the end, it was the request of Superintendent Morton, on behalf ot Harlan High School, that Harlan be permitted to serve as the host of the event with consideration being given to both Harlan County and the Corbin Arena as the playing site, with his preference being to play the games locally in Harlan County.
While Mr. Morton's request to play the game locally is understood, it simply is not compelling in light of the data for the regional tournament. While all decisions in tournament sites cannot solely be based on revenue and finances, the overall impact on the regional schools must be considered. The 2013 event at Harlan County was administered in a first-class fashion, and resources were optimized to ensure success in all areas. However, per Mr. Morton's own research, paid ticket revenue for the tournament was slightly more than half, in 2013, of the revenue totals from ticket sales for 2014, 2015 and 2016. It is also worth noting that the revenue levels in 2013 were during an event when a local team played two rounds in girls' event and three rounds in the boys' event, which intuitively would lead one to believe revenue should have been greater.
Simply put, for the entirety of the region and its member schools, the Corbin Arena appears to be a much more advantageous site for the event to be financially successful and handle all of the aspects of the regional tournament. As such, Harlan High School will be designated as host of the 2017 boys' and girls' regional tournaments, and these events will be played at the Corbin Arena, provided the Corbin Arena consents to such hosting.
Thanks to all of you for your continued work on behalf of the students of the Commonwealth, and thanks to Mr. Morton for his stellar communication concerning this issue. Good luck and safe travels to all and wishing each of you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.
Julian Tackett, Commissioner
Kentucky High School Athletic Association