One of the things I never understood while living in Montana is how the Montana High School Association (MHSA) determines their sports classes. I knew it had something to do with the number of students at the school, but not exact numbers or other details. However, the MHSA posts their yearly handbook on their website, so I checked it out. Here's the breakdown of the class system.

What do all the letters mean?

As I mentioned above, the letters are assigned based on enrollment numbers in that particular school. The actual numbers are outlined on page 19 of the MHSA Handbook, which you can find here. Here's the breakdown:

  • Class AA - 779 or more students enrolled
  • Class A - 307-778 students enrolled
  • Class B - 108-306 students enrolled
  • Class C - 1-107 students enrolled

It actually gets broken down further for football, since the number of players on a team can vary with smaller B and C schools. Regular 11-man squads require 130 or more students enrolled in the school, 8-man teams are 65 to 129 students, and 6-man teams are for any school below 65 students.

Can schools change their class?

Absolutely they can, and they can go about it a couple of different ways. According to the handbook, the school has to have been a part of their class for at least two school years, at which point they can appeal to the Executive Board of the MHSA to move up or down one class.

The board will then look at the enrollment of the school in the past two years, and determine whether their class change will be granted. Once a decision is made, the school can't appeal again for another two years.

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Hopefully, that helps alleviate some confusion, especially for those who have always been confused by the class system like me. As always, support your local high school teams and have fun.

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