14 teams split; FAVC in shambles

Several schools plan to realign in new athletic conferences in the fall of 2012.

Within the span of a few hours Tuesday, the Fort Ancient Valley Conference went from flush to splintered to non-existent.

The first crack came shortly after noon when member schools Anderson, Glen Este, Kings, Loveland, Milford, Turpin and Walnut Hills announced they were leaving the 17-team conference.

A few hours later, Ross superintendent Greg Young submitted letters of withdrawal for Ross, Talawanda, Edgewood, Harrison, Northwest and Mount Healthy.

“The league was unable to agree on or get any consensus on realignment based on those schools leaving, and as a result we’re going our own way,” Young said. “The six of us are strongly committed to forming a new athletic league, and we’re entering into discussions with Little Miami and Wilmington to join us in forming an eight-team athletic league. We are pretty sure they will be joining us.”

Wilmington also notified the FAVC on Tuesday its intention to leave the conference. Norwood has previously announced plans to join the Southern Buckeye Conference. That would leave Winton Woods as the only school in the current FAVC without an affiliation.

“Talawanda is in discussions with other member schools and we will evaluate the situation and do what’s best for our student athletes and community,” Talawanda athletic director Chris Weaver said. “We have long-standing relationships with our neighboring districts Edgewood, Ross and Harrison to name a few. Moving forward we want to continue those relationships.”

Ross has been a member of the FAVC since 1978. Edgewood and Talawanda joined in 2006 after the 13-team Mid-Miami League disbanded.

“We have a good relationship with the schools that are left,” Edgewood athletic director John Thomas said. “We want to do what is right for our kids and community.”

The FAVC will continue to operate for the remainder of this school year and the 2011-12 school year. The new conferences will take effect in the fall of 2012.

“I think it was a shock that schools were ready to just leave,” FAVC commissioner Steve Borich said. “Every 2-3 years we have been losing a school. That has been one of the league’s problems. Every few years a school feels like it can’t compete and it leaves. I had no inkling of this at the beginning of this year.”

“This was not a quick-trigger move,” Kings High School athletic director Matt Koenig said. “There has been a lot of discussion here at Kings about the stability of the FAVC and the schools that we are leaving with have had plenty of discussion about it as well.

“We think this is a good fit for Kings in the present and for the long term.”

In recent years, both Goshen and Amelia have left the FAVC.

“If you look at the recent history of the FAVC, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of stability within the conference and stability is something that we want,” Koenig said. “We feel that the six schools that we are forming a league with have the same philosophy of competition and stability that we do and we look forward to a long partnership with them.”

Kings and Little Miami were last two founding members of the FAVC, which began varsity play in 1965. The league has undergone many changes and realignments, perhaps the biggest in 1999 when it expanded from nine to 16 teams.

“We have good rivalries with those schools so naturally we’re disappointed that the conference is breaking up,” Little Miami athletic director Rob Blanton said. “We hope to continue to play some of those rivals down the road, but first and foremost, our concern is to make sure we will be able to continue to provide athletics for our kids. Our goal is to work hard to get the levy passed in May so that hopefully we can continue to provide those opportunities and maybe lower our pay-to-play cost as well.”

“It’s a shame,” Borich said. “Just like the (Mid-Miami League). It was a good league for years and they had situations come up and then that league fell apart.”

Staff writers Mike Burcham and Skip Weaver contributed to this report.