Prep Sports

Paola High’s Jeff Hines Believes the Success of Bishop Miege Needs to be Rationed

When it comes to competition-based endeavors, the point is to be the best. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about sports or business. The goal is to crush your competition. Is it fair that success in a given market isn’t divided up evenly so nobody feels left out? No. Not at all. But competition isn’t about making everyone feel all warm and fuzzy. The scoreboard is the thing that matters.

When it comes to division 4A high school sports in the state of Kansas, there is none better than Bishop Miege. Miege is a private school which owns football, basketball, soccer and track in Kansas. The athletics department at Miege is doing what every school in the state should aspire to do and that is to dominate. While Miege couldn’t be happier about its on-field success, there are others who believe the level of success enjoyed by Miege is not fair. Jeff Hines is one of those people.

Hines is the athletics director at Paola High. Paola is a public high school in Kansas and in direct competition with Miege. Instead of pushing his coaches to be better, Hines is asking the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) to implement a multiplier rule.

If your public school isn’t able to compete against its private counterparts, Hines has a solution for that. He wants to legislate success. That’s right. In the mind of some people, there’s nothing crony capitalism can’t fix and that includes success in high school sports. Here is Hines in his own words describing the situation that plagues the underachieving public high school athletics programs in the state of Kansas:

“Look, Miege has been a thorn in our side,” said Hines, whose school competes in the same classification. “They’re winning way more than any school should. I want to make it clear that I’m not accusing Miege of going out and recruiting kids. I’m not saying that. But what I’m saying is the private schools that are attached to large major metro areas naturally attract a different caliber athlete.”

When Hines says that Miege is “…winning way more than any school should” he’s implying that the school is taking more than its fair share of success. He would have a point if Miege was doing anything against the rules set by the KSHSAA, but in his owns words Miege is playing by the rules. Paola High is unable to compete against a private institution and the only solution is to regulate Miege into the mediocrity that Paola wallows in. It’s as if Atlas Shrugged is taking place in Kansas as Hines advocates for his own Equalization of Opportunity Bill.

Hines does present a perplexing question. Who decides how much winning an individual school gets to enjoy? Based on his actions, I’d say that he believes it’s the governing body of Kansas high school sports. Hines believes that success is something that should be rationed. And what better way to ration success than to regulate the market. Regulate, regulate, regulate.

News flash – True success cannot be regulated.

Kansas is not the only state struggling with competitive balance reform. Ohio is implementing regulations in the name of competitive balance for the 2017-2018 school year. The regulations being imposed upon the private Ohio schools are for all of the same reasons Hines wants the private Kansas schools regulated. Private schools just win too much in Ohio and that success needs to be rationed.

But you know what regulation is good for? Artificially tipping the scales in favor of an entity chosen by a governing body. And that is precisely what Hines is attempting to do with his proposal. He is asking the KSHSAA to change the rules in order to make Miege ineligible for 4A competition. If he is successful, Paola High could start benefiting from the rationed success Hines believes is rightfully his and Miege becomes the problem of the Kansas 5A division.

And what happens if Miege adapts to 5A sports and continues its winning ways? Will an athletics director representing a public 5A school demand that Miege be cast off so the public school can enjoy the spoils of rationed success? Once success is regulated and rationed, there is no end in sight. Regulation becomes a never ending spiral.

The never-ending spiral of regulation has one end in sight and that is perpetual mediocrity for all. Sure, the Miege dynasty will have been extinguished from 4A sports in Kansas, but what will the remaining schools have to strive for? The coaches at those schools will know that they can do the bare minimum and still be able to win a championship. But in winning those regulated championships, the quality of the product will have been diluted. Does a championship that is rationed have true meaning? I say it doesn’t.

E-mail Seth at seth [dot] merenbloom [at] campuspressbox [dot] com or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Vimeo

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Seth is the Managing Editor of Campus Pressbox.


  1. Andale has won 3 of last 4, and 5 of last 10 4A state track and field championships. Tell me again how Miege owns track.

    As far as the difference between public and private schools classification, Jeff Hines is apparently not alone. According to the Wichita Eagle, a recent “survey revealed 82 percent of KSHSAA high schools that responded said they felt some type of change — called a modifier in other states — is needed.” As of 2014, 19 states had either classification adjustments or separate associations for private schools. This number is trending up.

    The playing field is clearly not even. People pay 10K, 15K, 20K per student a year for better results in a private school and this is not limited to academics.

    1. Hi Stephen. You are correct, Andale track has had championship level success. Andale’s success could be used as support against the modifier because it shows that other schools can be successful when in direct competition with Miege. Hines’ proposal does have support of the majority, but majority rule doesn’t mean that the proposal is fair. I would argue that any state that uses a modifier is punishing success and attempting to artificially spread success around.

      1. Actually Baldwin is a 4A dominance in girls track. Do we have a problem with them, NO because all of there kids are from Baldwin. They breed track stars. Miege doesn’t breed athletes, they bring them in from other communities to build a stronger program. This comment my friend wrote sums it up

        The piece that most people don’t realize is that Miege was at one time 5A, because the continued to lose to St. Thomas Aquinas and the private schools in Wichita like Bishop Carroll, Miege put a cap on their enrollment. They will forever remain just 2 students shy of being 5A. They themselves dropped down in class to remain a dominant force. They have a multitude of “scholarships” given to players that excellent in their sport with a promise of a state title. Neither of the above will you see in public school athletics. This article makes it looks like Paola is whining about wins and losses when really the issue is just making sure all teams are truly “playing by the same rules”.

  2. So you think it’s fair that a school can offer a scholarship for an athlete in Missouri to come over to Kansas and go to school? I do believe that is called recruiting. Public schools are not allowed to do that so it seems that you are at a huge advantage as a private school. I’m all for dominance, I am from Paola and we like to win. But we do it with our homegrown kids not kids we ship in from other cities, counties and states.

    1. Hi Mike. My understanding of Miege’s scholarship structure is that scholarships are based on academics and financial need. Miege doesn’t appear to offer athletic scholarships. Whether that constitutes recruiting in the sense that you are speaking of is doubtful in my opinion. There is also at least one public school district in the Johnson County area that has open enrollment. That to could be considered recruiting, but again, I would disagree with labeling it as such.

      1. You aren’t understanding the issue. The Johnson County schools require you to live in Johnson County. Miege will take students from any county, Kansas, and Missouri. They draw from a pool no public school can compete against.

        1. There are differences in public and private institutions. No disagreement from me on that point. I do disagree with the belief that public schools can’t compete with their private counterparts. If that weren’t the case, then schools like Louisberg, Rose Hill and Holton wouldn’t have won football championships in the last decade. The differences aren’t insurmountable if the right people are hired to coach the student athletes we’re talking about.

      2. Hi, recent Paola graduate here. Even if your understanding of Miege’s scholarship structure is correct, there is still a direct correlation to the problem. I competed in Debate all 4 years of high school, and there is no lacking of the level of competition that Bishop Miege puts forth in that area. In fact, I would consider them at the same level as some of the 6A schools that I competed against.
        This is because they are able to offer scholarships specifically to those that are able to compete on such a high level. While debate may seem unimportant to those only interested in sport related politics, it is still a KSHAA recognized event. This piece of legislation would directly affect debaters as well, which is why I support it. Everyone should have a level playing field, no matter the event, and the fact is that private schools like Miege have funding and tactics (like enrollment caps) available that gives them an unfair edge over government funded public schools.

        Also as a sidenote: I hope that the comments directed toward Mr. Jeff Hines and the Paola Schools as a whole were only made in a temporary lapse in professionalism, as they were very rude. (wallowing in mediocrity indeed)

        1. Hi Katie. I do agree that the topic has ramifications that go beyond sports. My response is still the same. Regulation is not the answer. I stand by my opinion of Hines and his comments. This wasn’t a perceived injustice until Miege won three consecutive football championships and Hines said he wants the success spread around. If there is proof that Miege is breaking the rules, it should be proven. Until that time, Hines is singling Miege out because of its success.

  3. The athletic dominance is made of kids who got “scholarships” to attend and to attract them and the coaches are getting a separate paycheck. That is unfair. It’s not whining because the public schools are losing. Seems to me like Hines is standing up for his kids at his school because he cares for them and is tired of seeing heartbreak when a victory is deserved.

    1. I don’t doubt that Hines cares deeply for his students. His loses me when he talks about Miege “winning way more than any school should.” Who gets to arbitrate how much winning is too much by an individual school? I’ve read other comments attributed to Hines where he says that all kids deserve to win championships. My opinion differs from Hines’ because I don’t believe success is deserved. When it becomes deserved, it cheapens the accomplishment to me.

      1. That was simply a statement he made. He’s not fighting for it because they win to much. That is just a quote that is taking from many things he said. People take one quote and focus on that instead of the real issue here

        1. I don’t believe it’s fair to chalk something he said up to being “simply a statement he made.” One of two things seem plausible to me…1.) He made the statement and stands by it. Or…2.) He made the statement in error. Did he make the statement in error, walk it back and then his retraction/correction wasn’t reported?

  4. You don’t get it Seth. You just don’t. They absolutely recruit and they absolutely control enrollment. I can give you a kid to talk to that was approached by coaches in the hand shake line after a game. The list of these occurrences is countless. I know first hand that they research the enrollments of other top 4A schools to make sure they come in under the cutoff. The only thing i disagree with on Mr. Hines proposal is that it shouldn’t be a multiplier…it should be completely separate post season. Play with public schools all you want during the regular season, but do your own thing for post season. I say that because while a multiplier is a step in the right direction, these schools will still find a way. And it’s all under the guise of religion. Amazing. Watch kids grow up together, playing sandlot baseball or backyard football their entire lives. Watch them compete at a high level with dreams of winning it all someday, only to be demolished by a group of players hand picked from all over and didn’t know each other the year or two prior. It has NOTHING to do with being a poor sport. I’m all about winning and taking your licks. What happens with these schools and Miege in particular is flat out wrong. And so are you.

    1. Hi Bill. Having the private schools compete in a separate division than public schools makes more sense to me. We have some common ground with that. There would still be potential enrollment based issues with that because not all private schools have similar enrollments. But your overall point is a solid one to me.

  5. Seth, based on everything you wrote, why would you agree that separate divisions makes sense? You wrote some pretty powerful statements about Mr. Hines and your perceived purpose for his actions. You state that he’s trying to legislate success, competition isn’t about making everyone feel all warm and fuzzy, he’s doing this instead of driving his coaches to be better, etc. Why then, would you agree that separate divisions make sense? In regard to the issues a separate division may cause for the private schools (you could include increased cost of travel), i honestly don’t know how I could care any less. Mr. Hines and Paola compete at a very high level and have for years. Those kids get after it. My kids have felt the brunt and while it stinks when losing to them, it’s because they were just plain better. I commend Mr. Hines for his ability to lead an athletic program (based on results…i don’t know him at all) and the courage to lead this charge, knowing he’d face ridiculous scrutiny from people that simply don’t understand.

    1. Separate divisions would make more sense to me because it would be a version of the current class system. While I don’t believe there is anything to change about the current system, if a change were to be made, separate systems would make the most sense to me. As it is, I believe private and public institutions should be able to coexist in the same competitive setting. Yes, I did make some powerful statements about Hines and what I consider to be the purpose of his actions. My statements were based on quotes directly attributed to him. If Hines would have chosen different rhetoric to support his argument, perhaps I and his other detractors would have chosen less powerful rhetoric in opposing his proposition.

  6. Seth, i’d encourage you to go old school and really research this, the playing field, how it all works. I think you’d be surprised and you’d change your tune. It is quite a load of BS. I believe in winners and losers. You get a trophy if you win and jack squat if you lose. What’s happening with Miege and a lot of other private schools is wrong.

  7. I think you completely missed the point here. Bishop miege has more talent because they are able to bring in that talent. You seem to be implying that the other coaches are garbage because they can’t topple miege. That’s definitely not true. I’d actually say the other coaches are doing a better job (even though they can’t win state) because they have lesser talent to work with. How do you expect a small Kansas school with homegrown kids to beat a private school like that? Should have done a little more research here buddy.

    1. The other coaches aren’t garbage, but don’t stack up to the coaches hired by Miege. At least not based on recent results. Miege’s teams didn’t always win at the rate they currently do. Football is a prime example of this. Their football team has only won seven championships since 1970. Granted they have won the last three in a row. But their resurgence didn’t take place until they started hiring coaches like Tim Grunhard. To say that Miege only recently starting hoarding all of the talent isn’t fair. To believe they’re doing so now and not in the past isn’t an assumption that I believe to be logical. The difference, in part, is coaching.

      1. That’s because of the point we are trying I make. They were a 5A school and were not dominiate so they had the ability to drop down to 4A which they did. Public schools do not have that option. There is a big big difference from 4A to 5A. That’s why over the last 10 years they have dominate 4A

        1. Public high schools have dropped down a division as well. Maize South did so relatively recently. And all schools have the potential to move up or down. As I’m sure you’re aware of, how often classification examination is examined depends on the sport. But public and private are subject to this.

  8. I say let’s just give everyone a participation trophy and abolish all events where one is perceived as better than another. This is the direction that society is moving in, so why not use this false protection system for our kids so they can be prepared to live in a society where everything is just handed to them without any work or effort. /s

    If you are going to punish private schools then you should also take a look at the Blue Valley School District where you can go to any of the BV schools if you live in BV district. That is why all the good basketball players go to Blue Valley Northwest HS and the good football players go to Blue Valley HS. Maybe we should make the Blue Valley schools all ineligible to play against the other schools? /s

    When you talk about scholarships being unfair, I guess you forgot the fact that public school is free, so anyone going to a public school is already getting a so-called “scholarship” to go to school.

    They have already divided the 4A classification into two different divisions of 4A D-I and 4A D-II. Maybe the answer here is that they can divide 4A into 3 separate divisions, so that Paola can be in its own division with no other schools and get some trophies in their trophy case.

  9. The situation with private schools has been a never ending problem since way before my time in school (50 years). Friends of mine started be recruiting in middle school by the private schools if there was a perceived talent in sports. It was always an “academic or financial” scholarship, but everyone knew what it really was.

    Over the last 12-15 years, I have now seen personally, public schools opening their enrollments for “preferred” transfer students. I have seen this specifically at the 2-4A levels, although I’m certain it is happening in all classes. More than just a few students (players) from larger communities like Topeka, Wichita, Kansas City are finding their way to smaller public schools via transfer. Some may be for appropriate reasons (bullying, academics,etc.), but there are dozens for athletics and athletics alone. In some cases, it isn’t just a short trip to the new school either. I’ve personally seen families drive 35-45 miles one direction to have their kid play at a certain school where they can play right away, win more games, win titles, and get a chance to earn a college scholarship. I know that in a lot of cases these public schools only started doing this to compete on the same level as the private schools. In cases of smaller schools, it was to compete with teams with much larger attendance in their class.

    Honestly, it has just as much to do with parents living vicariously through their kids and their sports. Although the schools are the instigators of such standards. In any case, something has to change. As has already been mentioned, Hines can’t say what he really wants to say, since he has no substantiated proof. Private schools recruit for athletics, and I don’t personally know one private school in the KSHSAA that doesn’t. The private schools have begun to “control” their attendance levels for classification purposes. Miege and Colgan are a couple of examples. Add the public schools now “recruiting” from other schools and/or bigger cities, and the whole thing is a mess that has been rolling downhill for over a decade.

    Now how to fix the problems without totally upsetting the whole classification system…