The Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) has dropped diving from its sport offerings, meaning it will become one of the country’s few high school governing bodies to offer a swimming-only state championship meet.
In a statement sent to SwimSwam today, TAPPS said that despite a number of efforts to “keep diving as a viable competitive option for their students,” the Athletic Executive Committee and the Board of Directors decided to drop it.
Among the changes made over the past few years have included going from a 6 dive to an 11 dive competition, making it a state championship only event to save on costs for regional hosts, and by combining its three divisions into one to improve competitiveness.
Despite, the levels of participation (about 25 per year across 3 boys divisions and 3 girls divisions) wasn’t able to increase to the point to continue to justify the costs of the event or to make it more competitively viable. Further stakes were nailed when coaches complained about teams entering divers who were not sufficiently trained to be at a state championship level, but scored points simply because of the lack of competition.
TAPPS is one of three major organizations governing high school sports in Texas. It comprises 230 private and parochial schools from across the state, which is most of the state’s private schools (two compete in the UIL, the public league, and the Southwestern Preparatory Conference, which has 17 private schools in Texas and 2 in Oklahoma).
Despite the challenges in getting numbers, the organization has been home to some elite participants in the past. That includes Bradley Christenson, who was a four-time state champion for Liberty Christian and was named the Pac-12 Freshman Diver of the Year last year at Stanford; and Katie Hetherington from Duchesne Academy, who is the Bucknell School Record holder on the 1-meter and 3-meter boards as well as a First Team All-Patriot League Selection.
TAPPS closed their statement by thanking those coaches and athletes who have been involved in TAPPS diving.
See the full statement from TAPPS below:
The Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) provides opportunities for students attending our member institutions in both fine art and athletic activities. Each year the Executive Board reviews all activities with a focus on the continuation of overall programs and the activities therein.
TAPPS has continued to offer diving as an option for our students with every intention made to continue the activity. With acceptance as an Affiliate Member of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), TAPPS increased standards in several areas to meet the NFHS rules. Included upon acceptance was an increase in the number of dives from 6 to 11 in the state competition. The change from 6 to 11 dives offered our best divers a chance to gain All-American honors if earned, and that did not decrease the number of participants from its average 25 participants for 6 events (three divisions, boys and girls).
TAPPS made several efforts to keep diving as a viable competitive option for our students. The event was moved to a state championship only level, reducing the time and cost associated with the event at the regional championship level. Additionally, TAPPS diving participation did not support three separate divisions based on the overall number of entrants so the event was moved to one division to provide competition based on gender. This added excitement, plus allowed the lower competitions to compete with the Division I divers instead of being the only entrant in their division.
Based upon recommendation from the Athletic Executive Committee, the Board determined that diving will no longer be offered by our organization. While TAPPS provided an opportunity for many divers, the overall participation did not support continuing the activity within our organization.
The Executive Board, Athletic Executive Committee, Swim Director and staff offer our thanks to the coaches and participants who supported and continue to participate in this most challenging of events
Disclaimer: The author of this article coaches a team that has had a diver score at the TAPPS Championship meet, though his team is no longer in that league.