the four

(5-28-18) As another school year comes to an end in Ohio, it is a good time to consider an issue facing at least four Ohio schools who have been ‘shut-out’ of joining an athletic conference.

Lima Central Catholic (LCC) and Winton Woods will both face another school year of competing as an independent, while the third, Zanesville, could be the next to become an independent and Trotwood-Madison who left out of a new conference.

For LCC it started in December of 2011

Northwest Conference statement

“The Northwest Conference is announcing today that in accordance with Article III, Section 2.4 of the NWC Constitution, Lima Central Catholic High School has submitted a request to withdraw from the Northwest Conference at the conclusion of the 2012-13 school year. The decision was reached after productive meetings between the principals and athletic directors of both LCC and all other NWC schools. After being approached by certain conference members expressing concerns about competitive balance in the NWC, LCC felt it was in the best interests of all to initiate discussions to address these issues. After it became clear the conference as a whole shared the competitive balance concerns, all parties worked together to craft an exit plan that serves the interest of both LCC and the conference.”

Today the T-Birds remain an independent, they still do play several NWC schools, but in football last season they played Delphos St. John’s, a private school rival game, from the Midwest Athletic Conference, two Toledo City schools, two Indiana schools and other schools from around Ohio.

Winton Woods has been an independent since 2012, this happened after they were excluded when a group of seven members of their previous conference broke away to form a new conference. The Warriors were not asked to join the new conference, that is when the school said they were facing discrimination from those schools.

The Eastern Cincinnati Conference, which started with only seven members (which is a nightmare for football scheduling) left them out the mix. In 2014 Cincinnati Withrow became the eighth member.

Success might be another factor in why the Warriors are homeless, in 2017 they lost to Akron Hoban in the D II State Football Championship game.  Just like LCC their independent schedule included some of the powers in the Cincinnati area, plus a game against a powerhouse Indiana school and a Canadian team.

This past school year, Winton Woods and Lebanon both applied for ECC membership to make it a 10 school conference, they were the only two to apply, they were both rejected.

Zanesville is now in the beginning of the process of possibly becoming an independent in the future.

The Blue Devils recently were turned down to join the Muskingum Valley League as an expansion candidate, but instead adding three members from their current league the East Central Ohio League (ECOL).

Zanesville Superintendent Doug Baker recently told WHIZ TV:

“We are a diverse school district and the other districts are not as diverse as us. I would hope that would be seen as a positive for the MVL.”

“I’ve not received any response in any way from the league commissioner or from any of the other superintendents. And that’s part of the frustration. If we are not a good fit this round then tell us what we need to do to improve to be a good fit the next round.”

With the loss of three members the ECOL is now down to just five members and a very uncertain future for Zanesville athletics.

Trotwood-Madison principal David White told WHIO News

“Why is it that the only African-American school in that entire league isn’t allowed to be in (a proposed new) league? They didn’t (realign) based on geography or enrollment.”

The fourth school which was left behind when members of their current conference the Greater Western Ohio Conference, saw a mass exodus of members leave to start a new conference. Those schools were all members of two of the four divisions that formed the GWOC. The schools decided not to include Trotwood-Madison, much like Winton Woods and Zanesville they have a diverse make-up of students.  The other factor, they are very successful, especially in football.

Fortunately for the Rams, they will remain with the nine other members who were left behind in the GWOC.

So how can the problem be solved?

Since football is the main reason for most conference changes that seems to be an avenue for a possible change. Illinois is currently facing the same conference problems, they recently had an IHSA advisory board recommended that district play be incorporated in the future. The plan would feature the state overseeing the scheduling and placing schools in those districts, that would end traditional conference play and solve many conference break-ups. Wisconsin is also considering a move in this direction.

The other option is for schools, like the four above, to ask for help from the OHSAA in placing them in an athletic conference that would be a good fit for all of those involved. Several states having various methods of accomplishing this type of help, including Minnesota, Wisconsin, California and North Carolina.

Only time will tell…what the future holds for the four schools searching for a home.

Read it for your self….