Taking An Inside Look at the Current AIA FB Placement System

AZSportsnetwork takes a look at how moving teams up and down in Football really works

Good Morning Football Fans!

I have had discussions with several people who have inside knowledge about how the new AIA football system works. This includes some recent changes that you may not know about. This information is to help you better understand how it works. The info here is not our opinion and I am sure there is more info that we will not cover in this article. So without wasting anymore time lets dig into the system itself.


Formula Itself:

We do know there is a formula they use that I imagine is kicked out by the computer. I do know that when this system was first looking to be used we did see a formula but I am not sure if that is still being used. Here is the basic way it works but I do not have access to that SPECIFIC formula.

3 Year System Calculated Each Year:

The equation is based on the last 3 years, with each year getting a % (20, 30, 50) . The percentage I listed may not be exact but for this article it gives you an idea how the weighted formula works and is calculated. I have no idea what they do for the teams who didn’t play any games during any given season. I also do not know how forfeits work but my guess is since they count for a teams record they must be used as a win or loss for those teams who are involved in a forfeit. Forfeits do not count for rankings but this really doesn’t matter when coming to a win/loss record. The point is to get the most accurate system in place to move teams up or down.

What About Enrollment?

Based on the info I gathered when the system first started wherever you were at based on enrollment is where your starting point was for the system now in place. So this means for all purposes enrollment no longer matters and you are placed based on success or lack of success. For new schools I cannot specifically say how they calculate where those teams are placed but common sense tells me enrollment has to come into place somehow. Some new schools start as varsity while others do not. What we do know is that once they start in a certain division they are there UNLESS they are moved up for success or down for lack of success OR the school petitions UP which is rarely ever denied. This is why in the past with a team like Casteel they had HUGE numbers but stayed in 3A winning a title and then moved up. The same can be said for the Eastmark team this year. If they had petitioned UP they would have been allowed but because they were not moved up for SUCCESS they did not have to move up even with a very big enrollment.

So what is calculated in the Formula

I do not know what is exactly used in the formula but what we do know is wins ends up being the most important part of whether you stay-get moved up for success-or moved down for lack of success. What I also do not know if LOSSES are calculated for use to get a percentage or it is strictly the most wins in each year used to calculate the formula. I have heard that the final rankings are somehow used but not sure how it works. So since wins or lack of wins is calculated it makes sense the longer you advance in the playoffs MUST help when deciding who moves up because the more EXTRA games you play adds more wins to your overall win total.

What is NOT Calculated:

I was told that how many state titles you win or do not win doesn’t comes into the formula. So I have seen many that when this was first incorporated thought the teams moving up were the teams winning titles but that is not the case. Since winning does matter we can assume the way the playoffs come into play is the fact when you get into the playoffs you have a chance to win MORE GAMES which over a 3 year cycle will eventually possibly push you UP. The same goes for a lack of success aka less wins means over the 3 year span you have less wins.

Each Teams Data Briefcase:

I was told that the data for each team goes with them if they are moved up or down or stays put. So this means if a team is in 2A and moves up to 3A the data you had in 2A is still with you when you move up. The ONLY data that would change is the bottom end of the data that disappears as a new 3 years cycle begins each year. So for example: Lets say your data briefcase starts with 2019-2020-2021 but you got moved up in 2022. Your briefcase would drop off the 2019 info BUT keep the 2020-2021 but now add on the 2022 which ends up being the  3 year calculation. The same goes for a team that moves down for lack of success. That data also stays with them.


So Who Gets Moved Up, (Success) or Down, (Lack of success)

It’s based on the formula. If your standard deviation is at a certain number you get bumped up or down a division for a three year period. This is calculated each year. I was told each year if you are one of the TOP 3 teams you will get pushed UP. Likewise IF you are in the BOTTOM 3 you get pushed DOWN. Most times three will be pushed up but I have no idea if humans comes into play that says this year we will not move up 3 teams. Some guidelines to mention when moving up or down in question answer format:


#1: Can a team be moved UP/DOWN 2 Divisions in 1 year? 

NO! You can only be moved UP/DOWN  one division each year! There is a rule that states any team that is moved Up/Down can ONLY be moved up/down 2 Divisions. Lets take Thatcher: They started off in 2A so based on this guiding principle Thatcher can only go as high as 4A. So realistically if you started off in 2A you cannot be moved higher than 4A. If you start off in 3A you cannot be moved higher than 5A and so on. The same works for moving down as well.


#2:  Can a team be moved up/down in consecutive years?

YES! Remember that DATA BRIEFCASE we mentioned earlier that follows each team? Well that DATA stays with you when you move up or down which means if you were moved up for success and you keep winning you could get bumped up again or bumped down again within the 2 Division Guideline.

EX: This is why Saguaro went up to 6A this year. With two years of 4A data and 1 year of 5A data.

EX: So if ALA-Gilbert, Yuma Catholic, and Snowflake all make it back to the semi’s they could be bumped up to 5A or if one of them does it if their data is in the top 3.

EX: Take Temp as an example for teams moving down for lack of success. They also can be pushed down to 2A this year based on their Data. I anticipate this to be the case.

JUST REMEMBER: You can only go up 2 or down 2 from your original placement.


#3: Can I decline to go UP or DOWN?

YES and NO! You can petition the AIA that moving up is not good for your school or petition down if you do not want to go down. As we have seen petitioning from moving UP more than likely will NOT be won by a school. However, almost any team who wants to petition to stay UP and not be moved down will usually win that petition. Same thing goes for a team who wants to petition UP on their own will usually be allowed.

EX: AZCP comes to mind in 2022.


#4: How does a team who drops down for LACK of  SUCCESS get pushed back up?

The ONLY way for a team to get pushed back up are the following ways: (That I know of)

A: Petition Back UP

B: Get pushed UP by having TOO MUCH SUCCESS and having your Data Briefcase push you into the top 3 of the Division you are in at that time.

EX: Holbrook is getting close to getting pushed back to 3A from 2A.

C: The AIA decides to switch the system to an enrollment based system.


#5: How does a team who is pushed UP  for TOO  MUCH SUCCESS get pushed back DOWN?

A: Petition AIA to go back down.

B: Get pushed DOWN by having LACK OF SUCCESS and having your Data Briefcase push you into the bottom 3 of the Division you are in at that time.

EX: Phoenix Christian  is getting close to getting pushed back down from 3A to 2A.

C: PLEASE SEE NEW GUIDELINES at the end of this Article!


#6: How come the 1A-8-Man Division is not part of the formula?

I was told that the AIA people in charge do not see 8-man the same and have not been included in the formula which means no teams are moved up for TOO MUCH SUCCESS or NO TEAMS are allowed to move down to 1A for LACK OF SUCCESS.


New Guidelines for 2022 from the AIA Formula System:

I was told that there were some changes made to the system in 2022. Here are the changes:


  1. In your first year of being moved up if you are in the bottom 1/3 you will go back down
  2. or in the bottom 1/2 over a 3 year period you will be moved back down.

With these new guidelines in place lets look at a few teams that may benefit from them this year:

Parker: Parker was just moved up so it will be based off of this year. So they should get pushed back down, even though they are now 3A enrollment. The reason is they are in the bottom third in 3A with a 2-8 record.

Phoenix Christian/Ben Franklin: The big questions for PC and BF: Both of them will be in the bottom 1/3 this year, but for the last 3 years each of them have had 1 good year in the 3 where they were not in bottom 1/2, so both teams  may have to petition, in which both teams would hope they could win the petition.

By the way Arizona Lutheran Academy will fall short a few places from being in the bottom third to be able to move down. They could still petition to go down.

PLEASE NOTE: At any time a team can petition to go down. Gilbert Christian is an example of going down to 2A with a petition.


That is about all I have and I hope IF ANYTHING this gives you a better perspective on the system and how it works even if you do not like it. My hope is to help our fans of coaches, players and parents understand how it works. I am sure I have missed something and if people in the know want to add I will add it to this article. My information  did come from people inside the AIA who know some things about the system. I am currently trying to compile a list of the small school teams who will be pushed up or down based on wins and losses. I will have that in a later article this coming week.






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