High school coaches and athletic directors in Illinois have agreed to turn over football scheduling to a higher power.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Illinois High School Association member schools passed a referendum on a 324-307 vote that will hand off scheduling of varsity football games to the association.

Proponents said the new rule will eliminate an increasing number of conference realignments as school jockey for five wins to make the playoffs. IHSA will divide the schools into districts with eight or nine teams, which will be decided by enrollment and geography.  

This is the third proposal to be voted on by IHSA since 2009.

"I thought it would be close, but I thought it would go the other way," said Naperville Central athletic director Andy Lutzenkirchen, who had a hand in writing the proposal. "What I think helped is something like 85 percent of the schools voted, which might be a record."

The new proposal will be implemented in 2021. The top four teams in eight districts in each class will qualify for the playoffs.

Opponents of the proposal fear it will sentence some programs to languishing at the bottom of conferences where they can’t compete.

"It could be a death sentence for a school like East Aurora, some of the U-46 (Elgin area) schools or West Chicago," one area administrator said. 

West Aurora football coach Nate Eimer was even more grim in his assessment of the proposal. "I think in 10 years you’re going to see 20-30 schools have dropped football and another 30-40 may have gone to eight-man football," Eimer said.

Andy Berg is Executive Editor of Athletic Business.