West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission
|Headquarters||2875 Staunton Turnpike
Parkersburg, WV 26104
|Region served||West Virginia|
|Executive Director||Gary W. Ray|
|Affiliations||National Federation of State High School Associations|
The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission (WVSSAC, but colloquially referred to as SSAC) is the main governing body of high school sports, cheerleading, and marching bands in West Virginia, United States. Schools are divided into three classes by total enrollment in grades 9-12: A (0–428 students), AA (429–777 students), and AAA (778+ students). Football, basketball, baseball, cheerleading, golf, softball, track, and volleyball are broken into these three classes. Soccer, Cross country, tennis, and wrestling are broken into two classes (AAA and AA/A). Swimming is one class only.
The organization began with boys' basketball championships in 1914. The organization excluded private schools until 1979, when it merged with the state Catholic League. Today it also includes private schools of various religious viewpoints, along with all public schools in the state.
Unlike similar governing bodies in the United States, the WVSSAC does not dictate individual high school schedules during the regular season; those decisions are made by the coaches involved. Note that the WVSSAC does set forth some basic guidelines (i.e., the number of schools within its own classification or higher that a school must compete against) for a school to be eligible for that sport's playoffs. The WVSSAC determines scheduling during the playoffs. For example, in football, whose playoffs are seeded on a statewide basis, each game is played at the higher-seeded school's campus if its stadium is approved by the SSAC to host playoff matches. Otherwise, it is played at the SSAC-approved venue nearest to the higher-seeded school. The lower-seeded school has the choice of one of three starting times — 7:30 pm Eastern Time on Friday or Saturday, or 1:30 pm Eastern Time on Saturday.
- Baseball - Appalachian Power Park Charleston
- Basketball - Charleston Civic Center Charleston
- Cheerleading - Charleston Civic Center Charleston
- Cross country Cabell Midland High School Ona
- Football (Super Six) - Wheeling Island Stadium - Wheeling
- Golf (site changes from year to year)
- Soccer YMCA Beckley
- Softball Jackson Park Vienna
- Swimming West Virginia University Morgantown
- Tennis Watt Powell Tennis Annex and Player's Club Tennis Center Charleston
- Track Laidley Field Charleston
- Volleyball Charleston Civic Center Charleston
- Wrestling Big Sandy Superstore Arena Huntington
Prior to the decision in Brown v. Board of Education, West Virginia maintained "colored" high schools. These schools, and thus their students, were barred from competition in the WVSSAC. The institution now known as West Virginia State University funded an unofficial "state colored championship" in basketball and football until 1959. The WVSSAC historical records take no note of these champions, and does not note that its champions prior to that year competed in a system that excluded many of the state's best athletes.
West Virginia was one of only three states to hold girls' basketball in the fall, and girls' volleyball in the winter, ostensibly due to facility shortages at various high schools. Eventually the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that this unfairly disadvantaged girls in competition for college scholarships and the organization was forced to adopt a traditional schedule.
There have also been complaints that the disparity of enrollment in Class AAA makes it difficult for the smaller schools in the classification to compete, particularly in football. There is an 1075 student difference between Cabell Midland and Point Pleasant, Cabell Midland being the largest and Point Pleasant being the smallest schools in the class respectively. On the other hand there is only about a 348 student difference between Point Pleasant and the smallest Class AA school, Summers County. The last time a AAA school with an enrollment under 1000 students won a football championship was Nitro in 1998. There have been a number of unsuccessful attempts to add a fourth class, most recently in 2008. The measure was passed by the WVSSAC, but was ultimately voted down by the State Board of Education. The Board named the state's relatively small number of schools and worries over how a fourth class would affect travel as deciding factors. Given the number of failed attempts most now feel as though a fourth class will never be added.