Soucie: New IHSA enrollment numbers will lead to classification switches

14 schools will face multipliers

Providence’s Kaden Nickel (6) carries the ball during their Class 4A semifinal game against St. Francis in Wheaton on Friday, Nov. 19. 2022.

The IHSA enrollment numbers have been released for the next two-year period. With that comes a number of significant changes to how the postseason will look for the next two campaigns.

With the new numbers comes a different batch of schools that face multipliers, some that lost the multiplier designation and one that will face a success-formula designation.

Fourteen schools will face multiplier designations: Brother Rice, Marist, Mount Carmel, St. Ignatius, St. Rita, St. Teresa, IC Catholic, Joliet Catholic, Nazareth, Providence, Fenwick, Sacred Heart Griffin, St. Francis and Loyola.

Of that group, St. Ignatius, IC Catholic, Joliet Catholic, Providence, Fenwick, Sacred Heart Griffin, St. Francis and Loyola were not multiplied during the past two seasons. IC Catholic and Loyola voluntarily elected to move up to Class 3A and Class 8A, respectively, when they would have been Class 2A and Class 7A without doing so. That didn’t prevent either program from winning a state title last season.

Here’s what it means for either a returning or newly multiplied school:

SchoolNew Enrollment #Old Enrollment #New ClassificationOld Classification
IC Catholic608323.54A3A (played up)
Joliet Catholic965.25616.55A4A
Loyola3276.07519858A8A (played up)
Providence1296.0758585A/6A (bubble)4A
Sacred Heart Griffin884.46075A4A
St. Francis6951130.255A4A
St. Ignatius2408.17514438A6A

The success formula also returned. Well, sort of.

To have the success formula applied, a private or nonboundaried school must earn a state trophy in each of the two previous seasons prior to the new enrollment numbers. In this case, a trophy must have been earned in the 2021 and 2022 state finals.

Sacred Heart Griffin was the only school to achieve this and technically has the success formula applied.

The Cyclones, however, weren’t multiplied during the last two-year enrollment period. There is a provision within the success-formula rule that doesn’t allow a school to be forced to move up two classifications. A school would be allowed to move up two classifications only if a substantial enrollment shift was the reason.

The only way the success formula would be applied in Sacred Heart Griffin’s case would be if its new multiplied enrollment still landed it in Class 4A. That has only a small probability of happening, but the success formula would be applied to the Cyclones if it did. Regardless of how it plays out, Sacred Heart Griffin will be a Class 5A team in the postseason.

It is the first time a football program has been assigned the success formula since 2019. The previous two-year period for enrollment calculation had only one postseason because of the pandemic, which made it impossible for any school to win trophies in two consecutive postseasons. Agree or disagree, the canceled 2020 season was counted as a participation season for multiplier and success-formula calculation.

It’s also the reason why so few schools – only nine – were multiplied during the previous two-year enrollment period. Three of those lost their multiplier designation for the upcoming enrollment period: Quincy Notre Dame, Rockford Boylan and Sterling Newman.

Here’s what that means for those three schools:

SchoolNew Enrollment #Old Enrollment #New ClassificationOld Classification
Quincy Notre Dame378.5641.032A4A
Rockford Boylan673.51268.034A5A
Sterling Newman210355.581A2A

It’s an interesting development for each program, particularly for Sterling Newman, which has made the postseason in 27 of the past 28 years, but it hasn’t been an entrant in the Class 1A field since a runner-up showing in 1998.

Enrollment shifts

There were a number of public schools that found significant enrollment shifts. In this format, even small shifts can matter in some classifications while large shifts can sometimes mean very little at all.

Here’s the list of the 20 schools that saw the largest shift in enrollment by increase. It includes both schools subjected to possible multipliers and schools that were not.

SchoolNew EnrollmentOld EnrollmentDifference
Loyola (multiplied)3276.0751985Up 1291.075
St. Ignatius (multiplied)2408.1751443Up 965.175
Fenwick (multiplied)1819.951140Up 679.95
Taft38493323Up 526
Providence (multiplied)1296.075858Up 438.075
St. Francis (multiplied)1130.25695Up 435.25
Joliet Catholic (multiplied)965.25616.5Up 348.75
DePaul Prep833518Up 315
IC Catholic (multiplied)608323.5Up 284.5
Sacred Heart Griffin (multiplied)884.5607Up 277.4
Kenwood1939.51662.5Up 277
Machesney Park Harlem19281739.5Up 188.5
Kankakee1459.51283.5Up 176
Stagg24792311.5Up 167.5
Granite City1810.51645.5Up 165
South Elgin2849.52692.5Up 157
Mather1660.51506Up 154.5
Rockford Jefferson1887.51733Up 154.5
Amundsen14701335Up 135
St. Laurence844710.5Up 133.5

Some of the schools that were not affected by any sort of multiplier won’t likely see any real classification consuqeunces, but a few that will appear to be Kankakee (who will go from 5A to 6A), DePaul (3A to 4A) and Kenwood (6A to 7A).

Here’s the list of the 20 schools that saw the largest shift in enrollment by decrease. It includes both schools subjected to possible multipliers and schools that were not.

SchoolNew EnrollmentOld EnrollmentDifference
Rockford Boylan (lost multiplier)673.51268.03down 594.53
Collins241781down 540
Englewood STEM1200.51636down 435.5
Berywn-Cicero (Morton)7758.58170.5down 412
Phoenix559946.5down 387.5
St. Rita1603.81915.65down 311.85
Rich Township2466.52761.5down 295
Quincy Notre Dame (lost multiplier)378.5641.03down 262.53
St. Charles East21692428down 259
St. Patrick9831206down 223
Warren3696.53893.5down 197
Orr214410down 196
Noble/Johnson505697down 192
Hinsdale Central25282705down 177
Urbana1126.51301.5down 175
Plainfield East2031.52200.5down 169
Marian Central Catholic389557down 168
Rockford East1559.51726.5down 167
Peoria Notre Dame563.5729.5down 166
Geneva16981859.5down 161.5

Many of these shifts, while substantial in number, won’t lead to many actual classification shifts. It does not, however, eliminate the possibilities.

But the enrollment drops do provide one of the most curious cases of all in St. Rita.

St. Rita is one of the 14 multiplied schools, but the natural enrollment drop of the school from 1,103 to 972 means that its multiplier number drops to 1603.8, which is much more in line with a 6A classified school instead of 7A where it has played most recently.

The list

Any change, large or small, can only be measured by how it relates to each of the other 502 playoff eligible programs and what their enrollments are in comparison.

When looking at the overview, we start with the smallest school enrollment-wise, Ottawa Marquette (154 enrollment) and go all the way to the largest school enrollment-wise, Berwyn-Cicero Morton (7758.5 enrollment).

So, for the purposes of this discussion, a school that loses enrollment and moves up slots on the board would be classified as moving up, potentially into a lower classification.

Conversely, a school that gains enrollment would move down slots on the board and be moving down, potentially into a higher classification.

Schools that have a relatively large gain or decline could move very few slots on the board based on the differences in enrollment of the schools that reside around them. In other situations, a rather modest gain or decline could lead to a significant change because of the close proximity of schools of likewise enrollments. This happens frequently in the smaller classifications where an enrollment change of less than 10 one way or the other could be the difference between a smaller or larger classification.

Here’s a list of schools with the largest change in slots on the board in an upward direction (moving toward or into a smaller classification):

School2023-24 Spot on Board2021-22 Spot on BoardDifference
Collins33247214 spots up
Orr16129113 spots up
Quincy Notre Dame11821597 spots up
Rockford Boylan22931990 spots up
Sterling Newman139986 spots up
Phoenix20027474 spots up
Marian Central Catholic12919364 spots up
Englewood STEM31036757 spots up
Noble/Johnson17822951 spots up
Rockford Christian7111746 spots up
Raby215938 spots up
St. Edward448238 spots up
St. Rita36440138 spots up
Peoria Notre Dame20123433 spots up
Highland Park37540631 spots up
Phillips19522530 spots up
Farmington10213028 spots up
Urbana29632428 spots up
Edwards County295425 spots up
Streamwood37339825 spots up

So, what does this list mean in terms of impact?

It’s already been noted what it means for Sterling Newman, Boylan and St. Rita, but other prominent programs that could find themselves moving into a smaller classification include Chicago Phillips. A few schools not on the list but saw moves of 20 or more spots include Prairie Ridge, which looks likely to fall into the 5A mix, and Belleville Althoff, which is likely a 1A team should it qualify for the postseason.

Just as there are schools that moved up on the list, there are others that saw either an enrollment increase move them significantly down the list or a more moderate move down because stable enrollment saw them moved below schools that did experience an enrollment drop of some kind.

Here’s a list of schools with the largest change in slots on the board in an downward direction (moving toward or into a larger classification):

School2023-24 spot on the board2021-22 spot on the boardDifference
IC Catholic (multiplier added)21276 (played up)down 136
St. Ignatius (multiplier added)451350down 101
Fenwick (multiplier added)384300down 84
DePaul Prep256174down 82
Joliet Catholic (multiplier added)277207down 70
St. Francis (multiplier added)297228down 69
Westmont11751down 66
Providence (multiplier added)327262down 65
Loyola (multiplier added)483418 (played up)down 65
Sacred Heart Griffin (multiplied added)267203down 64
Leo12572down 53
North Lawndale161115down 46
Kenwood411371down 40
Noble/Academy194156down 38
Machesney Park Harlem409376down 33
Shelbyville9970down 29
Kankakee350321down 29
Pittsfield9568down 27
St. Laurence259232down 27
King192168down 24

Like the list of schools that were moving up the list, the impact of moving down the list is usually impacted most in smaller schools where the bubbles are more affected by smaller moves in the enrollment lines. A larger school that was locked into 8A isn’t affected by a list move of 20 spots of more, but a 20-spot move by a school in a smaller classification is almost certain to see either a classification move or a presence much closer to the bubble lines between two classes than it had been previously.

Speaking of the bubble lines, here’s where the classification break lines have been for the last three contested postseasons:

2022 postseason2021 postseason2019 postseason
Class 1AUp to 315Up to 324Up to 297
Class 2A316-423325-422298-405
Class 3A424-559423-551406-530
Class 4A560-858552-793531-769
Class 5A859-1302794-1311770-1238
Class 6A1303-18001311.5-17471238.5-1735
Class 7A1800.5-2207.71747.5-2207.71736-2216
Class 8A2208 and above2208 and above2217 and above

For the most part, the bubbles remain pretty stable. Evidence of that comes easily as Brother Rice has been the largest Class 7A team in the field for two consecutive years.

But now the teams that reside around the bubbles have seen a lot of change, which means we should see some substantial changes in the make up of many of the playoff fields, even if, and history shows that the fields are largely made up of the same teams on a year-to-year basis.

Time will only tell how much change that will be.