A fractured Cross County Conference could become officially split in the coming weeks, leaving Fort Loramie as one of four schools in the league.
On Jan. 18, school superintendents, principals and athletic directors from the 14 CCC member schools met in an emergency meeting to discuss the future of the conference. Miami East superintendent Dr. Todd Rappold said four of the 14 CCC schools — Miami East, Bethel, Covington and Fort Loramie — were told the other 10 schools planned on exiting the conference.
“At the end of November, a group of schools from the Cross County Conference started meeting to discuss the possibility of leaving the conference,” Rappold said. “Four schools, Miami East, Bethel, Covington and Fort Loramie, were not at those meetings. What we were informed of (Jan. 18) was that those schools planned on exiting the CCC.
“Obviously we shared our frustration at how things had transpired the last few months, as those meetings did not occur within the league bylaws at official league meetings.”
The schools that verbally announced their plans to leave the CCC are Newton, Ansonia, Arcanum, Bradford, Franklin-Monroe, Mississinawa Valley, National Trail, Tri-County North, Tri-Village and Twin Valley South. Newton and Bradford are the only two of the 10 schools located in Miami County, the rest are in Darke and Preble counties.
“Because of the ongoing negotiations and discussions between several districts concerning athletic conference affiliation, and out of respect for this process, we will not have any specific comments until those discussions and negotiations have concluded,” Newton superintendent Pat McBride wrote in an email to the AIM Media Midwest. “Once things have been finalized, we will make a full and complete statement. In general, every district must do what they consider to be best for their students and student athletes.
“Each district is committed to doing just that! Change is usually not easy but often necessary. Like many schools in other area conferences and around the state, many of the member schools in the Cross County Conference felt changes were necessary.”
Rappold said there was no official request to leave the conference submitted at the Jan. 18 meeting, but that the remaining four schools were told a written request would come “in the next week or so.” The next scheduled conference board of control meeting is scheduled for Feb. 6.
Rappold said that one of the reasons the 10 schools gave for leaving the CCC “revolved around football.”
“One of the reasons they gave verbally for leaving revolved around football,” he said. “They didn’t say any more than that. They just said it was ‘football-related.’”
Since 2006, when Miami East joined the CCC after a stint in the Central Buckeye Conference, Covington has won or shared eight CCC titles in football (2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016), while Miami East has won or shared three CCC titles in football (2008, 2015 and 2017).
Fort Loramie, which joined the conference in football and girls golf only in 2017 — the Redskins play in the Shelby County Athletic League in all other sports — won the CCC football title this past fall, while also reaching the Division VII state semifinals.
In that stretch from 2006-2018, two of the 10 schools possibly leaving the CCC, Ansonia (2009) and TC North (2014) each won one conference title in football.
If those 10 schools do apply to to leave the CCC, when that departure might actually happen could become the subject of debate.
According to Article III, Section 3 of the conference’s constitution: “Requests for entering or leaving the conference are to be submitted in writing to the secretary to be considered at the next Board of Control meeting. Membership must continue for two school years after the written request to leave has been submitted.”
However, in a memo obtained by AIM Media Midwest that was handed out at the Jan. 18 meeting, the 10 schools that are leaving have expressed a desire to leave earlier than the two years stipulated in the CCC contract.
The memo states: “While the group will respect the by-laws of the CCC stating that teams must give 2 years notice, we request considering of ending the current relationship following the 2019-2020 school year if the remaining teams are able to coordinate a full conference schedule. Despite our intentions to leave the conference, it is not our intent for student athletes from the remaining schools to compete without a conference.”
Rappold said that if and when the conference officially splits, the four remaining schools would be unified in looking for more schools to join them in filling out a conference.
“If that comes to fruition, we will begin looking at our other options,” he said. “When it becomes official, we will begin looking around at the possibility of other schools joining us.”
Should the split come, which group of schools would keep the Cross County Conference name also could become a point of debate.
In the Jan. 18 memo, the 10 schools that are planning on leaving expressed a desire to keep the Cross County Conference name: “Additionally, because the new group represents original Cross County Conference members (minus Bethel), we respectfully request the CCC name remain in the area of its origination.”
“We’re not leaving, so from our vantage point, we’re still the CCC,” he said.
David Fong can be reached at 937-552-2238, or follow him on Twitter @thefong