Section IV

Quite often, a question comes up about the differences between STAC and Section IV sports.  Here is a tutorial that breaks down both.

The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) is comprised of 11 sections throughout the state.  The Southern Tier Athletic Conference (STAC) is in Section IV.  

STAC is one of five conferences that comprise Section IV: Interscholastic Athletic Conference (IAC), Midstate Athletic Conference (MAC), Tri-Valley League, Delaware League, and STAC.

STAC has 18 schools, roughly ranging from Elmira to Oneonta.  Section IV has 71 schools total (including the 18 from STAC), with biggest enrollment Elmira (1,340) and the lowest Andes (17) for the 2023-2024 school year.

STAC Divisions and Alignment
West – Corning, Elmira, Horseheads, Ithaca
Metro – Binghamton, Johnson City, Maine-Endwell, Union-Endicott, Vestal
Central – Chenango Forks, Chenango Valley, Owego, Seton, Waverly (previously competed in the IAC)
East – Norwich, Oneonta, Susquehanna Valley, Windsor

All other non-STAC schools in Section IV are broken up into the other four leagues.

Every high school sport played is a part of Section IV.  Many sports are broken up into individual leagues such as STAC, like basketball and baseball.  Other sports do not have individual leagues, and are considered Section IV sports only, such as field hockey and football.

Here is the breakdown by season of which sports offered by Section IV are placed into STAC, and which do not have individual leagues and are considered Section IV sports only.

Southern Tier Athletic Conference
Fall – cheerleading, boys cross country, girls cross country, golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls swimming & diving, girls tennis, girls volleyball
Winter – boys basketball, girls basketball, boys bowling, girls bowling, cheerleading, boys swimming & diving, boys wrestling
Spring – baseball, softball, boys tennis, boys track & field, girls track & field

(Note: girls wrestling is considered a Section IV sport, but does hold a STAC Championship meet in the winter)

Section IV only
Fall – field hockey, football
Winter – badminton, ice hockey, indoor track, skiing
Spring – girls flag football, girls golf, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse

This website will focus on the scores and news of the sports in STAC.  The Section IV only sports will not be covered.

For postseason play, a common point of confusion is the difference between STAC playoffs and Section IV playoffs (often referred to as “sectionals”).  Simply put, STAC playoffs and Section IV playoffs are two completely different things.

While winning a STAC Championship is an important accomplishment, it has no bearing on the state tournament.  The only way to win a state championship is by qualifying for the Section IV playoffs and going on a winning streak through the local, regional, and state levels.

STAC playoffs are determined by record in STAC league games only.  Section IV playoffs are determined by final average from a points system, which could come from games against both STAC and non-STAC schools.

STAC Playoffs
STAC playoffs are for league bragging rights only and take place before Section IV playoffs begin.  There are different criteria for qualifying for STAC playoffs.  For team sports, you must win your division.  For individual sports, it varies by the sport.  For example, in track & field, each STAC school can enter up to two athletes per event.

Team Sports:
Semi-final: Central/East #2 seed at West/Metro #1 seed
Semi-final: West/Metro #2 seed at Central/East #1 seed
Championship: Larger enrollment school hosts (unless hosted by a neutral site)

Seeds are determined by top record within STAC league games only.  For example, if (West) Corning has a 10-2 league record and (Metro) Vestal is 9-3, Corning would be the #1 seed and get a home semi-final game, and Vestal would be the #2 seed and play a road semi-final game.

Section IV playoffs (aka “Sectionals”)
Section IV playoffs lead to the state tournament and have increased importance.  Teams/Individuals do not need to have qualified for the STAC playoffs in order to be in sectionals.  (An example of this would be Corning softball from last year.  They did not participate in the STAC playoffs due to not winning their division, but still qualified for sectionals and won Class AA).  

For team sports, you must win 40% of your overall games OR 50% of your games within your class.  For individual sports, just like for STAC playoffs, it varies by the sport.

The designation of which schools are in which class varies by sport.  The breakdown is available on this document HERE.

For teams that meet one of the winning % criteria, they are seeded by the following points system:

Team Sports Point System:
Five (5) for a win over a team from a higher class
Four (4) for a win over a team from the same class
Three (3) for a win over a team from a lower class
Two (2) for a loss to a team from a higher class
One (1) for a loss to a team from the same class
Zero (0) for a loss to a team from a lower class

To determine final point average, divide the total number of points by the number of games played.