While local Bearcats fans may continue to hold out hope conference realignment will return to the college football landscape, the high school football landscape in Brown County will be undergoing a rather seismic shift starting with the 2017-2018 school year.
Already preparing for the loss of Amelia when the Barons and Glen Este become West Clermont, the Southern Buckeye Athletic and Academic Conference learned they will also be without Norwood. The Indians announced last week that they would leave the SBAAC and join the Miami Valley Conference, effective in 2017. The conference contains the likes of Cincinnati Country Day, Summit Country Day and Cincinnati Christian.
Norwood athletic director JD Faust said the move was made for financial reasons.
“The decision was made solely on transportation and transportation costs,” Faust said. “With the state cutting back budgets, the costs increased by close to 45 percent from the previous league we were in. So we’d have to increase pay-to play fee and in the city we can’t do that. If I raise my fee any more, we can’t have sports. We save $50,000 per year by joining this league.”
The math certianly seems to add up. The Indians play football in the same division as Western Brown, and it takes an hour to travel between the two schools. In the Miami Valley Conference, most teams are within a half-hour of the high school.
Now, the question looms: where does the SBC go from here? Well, if they act quickly, they shouldn’t have to go very far.
Fayetteville currently houses their football team in the Ohio Valley Athletic League, which this past season consisted of the Rockets, Miami Valley Christian Academy, Hillcrest and Manchester. MVCA is joining Norwood in the Miami Valley Conference, which seems to make a good amount of sense. With MVCA’s departure, the remaining schools in the league do not seem to have any specific ties to one another that would prevent them from leaving, the lone exception being Fayetteville and Manchester both being in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference for non-football sports.
The Rockets make the most sense, but they aren’t the only option, especially since with the addition of Norwood geography went out the window. Manchester and Winton Woods are also schools that are independent or, in Manchester’s case, facing conference uncertainty. Both schools are also about an hour away from Western Brown, which would make travel difficult and could lead to the same scenario that saw Norwood withdraw to begin with.
There would still be issues to work out even with the potential addition of more schools, however, The divisions and schedules themselves would then become a problem, depending on the sizes of the schools added. The American Division is now short two football-playing schools and it’s highly unlikely any of the National Division or small-school teams would like to jump into it. The two schools that join the league, if more schools do, would have to be willing to play in the larger division.
Blanchester superintendent Dean Lynch told the Wilmington Journal-News the league would have an executive meeting on December 2 to formally accept Norwood’s resignation. Plans for the future, including scheduling, will also be discussed at that time.
It’s not the first time the SBAAC had dealt with shifts in conference affiliation. When Blanchester joined the league in 2001, they brought with them Greenfield McClain, Clinton Massie and East Clinton. Two years later, Hillsboro and Greenfield McClain left the league. Clinton Massie left in 2005 and Goshen joined as their replacement. Five years later, East Clinton left the league with Amelia joining the conference.