One of the biggest chips has been played.
It’s now up to the Suburban League to make its move — and that could involve Medina.
Green Superintendent Jeffery Miller II announced following a scheduled SL meeting Tuesday that the Bulldogs have accepted an offer to join the rugged Federal League for the 2015-16 school year.
The move was widely anticipated after Green balked at the initial Aug. 1 deadline. An extension request was accepted so school officials could sell the idea to the community.
The five-person school board is expected to approve the recommendation Monday, thus ending a relationship with the SL that dates back to its inception in 1949.
“After careful deliberation, I am excited to announce my recommendation to the Green Board of Education to join the Federal League,” Miller II told The Canton Repository. “The impetus for the decision was providing our student-athletes with the best possible experience. Our school system views athletics as an extension of the classroom and we are committed to pursuing excellence in the classroom, in the athletic arena and in our performing arts program.”
Green’s ties with the Federal League are obvious, as it sits on the Summit/Stark county border. The Bulldogs already play FL schools in virtually every sport, and Massillon Jackson, Massillon Perry, Canton McKinley, Uniontown Lake, North Canton Hoover and Canton GlenOak would lessen travel burdens and increase revenue.
“We appreciated them telling us first,” SL commissioner Keith Walker said. “We wish them the best of success in the Federal League.”
The FL is slated to operate with six schools for the next two years following the departure of Austintown Fitch. It had hoped to lure Wadsworth, but the Grizzlies had no serious interest and will remain in the SL.
“It doesn’t really change a whole lot other than we have a vital spot to fill,” Walker said. “Whatever number we’re looking at, there’s one more number we’re looking at. We’re still very much interested in expanding.”
The SL will now attempt to create big- and small-school divisions. Walker has all but ruled out simply replacing Green and maintaining the eight-member format.
The SL doesn’t intend to wait, either, as a meeting with current athletic directors and principals is slated for Monday. Invitations could be handed out that day.
Two divisions of eight teams was the SL’s initial desire. After discussing the issue Aug. 2 at the SL’s annual football luncheon without Walker, who was on vacation, athletic directors are now leaning toward a 12-team league — two divisions of six — due to time constraints and travel concerns.
Medina is rumored to be one of the favorites in the proposed big-school division (Wadsworth and Nordonia) alongside Hudson, Cuyahoga Falls and Stow.
Brecksville, Twinsburg and North Royalton are also in play but on the outside looking in — be it by the SL’s preference or the school’s lack of interest — although one or two would be invited if the 16-team format comes to fruition.
The hold up is due to the proposed small-school division that begins with current SL members Highland, Cloverleaf, Revere and Tallmadge. Aurora and Kenston are scrambling following the collapse of the Chagrin Valley Conference, but are receiving resistance due to travel concerns.
Both are almost an hour’s drive from Cloverleaf.
“Travel is a big part of it,” Walker said without mentioning specific schools. “Obviously, we’d like to keep travel down, and that’s why Green left.”
As such, Barberton, which just left the SL after the 2010-11 school year, could have its foot in the door. Kent Roosevelt is another possibility.
Ravenna also attended the June meeting, but is not believed to be seriously interested. Norton did not attend the meeting and received a questionnaire it never returned, while Uniontown Lake previously declined an invitation.
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or email@example.com.
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