(5-15-23) Eight teams have announced that they are leaving the Great Lakes Conference (GLC) to start a new conference starting in the 2024-25 school year.

The schools leaving the conference to form their own conference are,

  • North Olmsted
  • Westlake
  • Buckeye
  • Rocky River
  • Valley Forge
  • Normandy
  • Bay Village
  • Lakewood

Indications are the Fairview will join the Chagrin Valley Conference

The two Catholic schools, Elyria Catholic and Holy Name, appear to be the main reason for the eight schools departures and were not invited to join the others..

This approach of ‘dumping‘ a member is called the ‘Back Door‘, by members leaving to form a new conference they avoid voting out a member who has decided to remain in the conference and not to leave the leave the conference on their own.

Why use this approach? The member left out in the ‘cold’ has dominated the conference over the years…private schools can also be the target of the move. No formal reason for the move has been made by the members leaving.

GLC history – courtesy Wikipedia

As part of a significant realignment in Cleveland-area high school leagues at the time, the Great Lakes Conference was formed in 2015 by seven schools that were located in Cleveland’s west suburbs and had similar competition levels. Normandy, Parma, and Valley Forge came from the former Northeast Ohio Conference, Bay, Elyria Catholic, and Rocky River came from the former West Shore Conference, and Holy Name came from the North Coast League.

The league added Buckeye and Fairview in 2019. Buckeye and Fairview were two of four schools being left out after eight of the 12 Patriot Athletic Conference schools decided to form a new league with more compact traveling distances.

On April 16, 2019, it was announced that Lakewood would join for the 2020-21 school year, leaving the Southwestern Conference in order to do so.

On February 20, 2020, it was announced that North Olmsted and Westlake would join for the 2021-22 school year, bring the GLC’s membership to 12 schools. Both schools came from the Southwestern Conference. With 12 members, the GLC will split into two divisions for some sports. The East Division will consists of Buckeye, Holy Name, Lakewood, Normandy, Parma, and Valley Forge; the West Division consists of Bay, Elyria Catholic, Fairview, North Olmsted, Rocky River, and Westlake.

Beginning of the end

In June 2022, Parma City Schools approved a consolidation plan that would close Parma Senior High School along with two elementary schools following the 2022-2023 school year.

In March 2023, Fairview announced that they would be joining the Chagrin Valley Conference starting with the winter sports season of the 2023-2024 school year. This came following a concern that Fairview would be “the smallest public school in an increasingly growing pool of larger ones.”

In May 2023, eight of the GLC members (Bay, Buckeye, Lakewood, Normandy, North Olmsted, Rocky River, Valley Forge, and Westlake) announced that they would be leaving to form a new league for the 2024-2025 school year.This will leave Elyria Catholic and Holy Name under the GLC banner until those schools find a solution for their league home going forward.