Lebanon High School won’t be leaving the Greater Western Ohio Conference after all.
The eight-school Eastern Cincinnati Conference considered applications from Lebanon and Winton Woods, but Lebanon athletic director Bill Stewart said he’s been notified the ECC won’t be adding any new members at this time.
“I got official word from (ECC commissioner) Ray Spicher last Thursday that the board of control had voted not to expand,” Stewart said. “We’re a member of the GWOC. We were never not a member of the GWOC. Now we’re moving forward with the GWOC.”
The GWOC is undergoing a transformation with the announcement that Butler, Troy, Tippecanoe, Greenville, Sidney, Piqua, Fairborn, Xenia, West Carrollton and Stebbins are leaving to form their own league starting in 2020-21.
“We felt that with the unstableness of the GWOC, the ECC offered us an opportunity to be in a stable league,” Stewart said. “We had polled our coaches and administrative team and decided to put in an application. There was support for both leagues from our coaches.”
And his reaction when he was contacted by Spicher?
“We were already in a good league,” Stewart said. “I’m confident Eric Spahr as the commissioner of the GWOC is committed to doing whatever he can to keep the GWOC together. It’s a great league, there’s no doubt it. The (Greater Miami Conference) is the top public-school league in Cincinnati, and the GWOC is the top public-school league in Dayton.”
Stewart said Lebanon won’t be looking at any other leagues. Job 1 now is to come up with an acceptable alignment for the remaining 10 schools — Trotwood-Madison, Beavercreek, Centerville, Fairmont, Wayne, Springfield, Springboro, Northmont and Miamisburg are the other nine.
That process will begin with a meeting of GWOC athletic directors on April 17.
“There’s no telling if the GWOC’s going to stay together, but we’re going to work like heck starting the 17th to make sure it will stay together,” Stewart said. “I’m totally confident the guys in that room will come up with the right decision for all the kids and teams in the GWOC. I firmly believe that.”
He doesn’t think there will be one 10-school division.
“I expect us to move into some form of divisions,” Stewart said. “We’re going to have to be creative and think outside the box as far as how the league is shaped.
“High school leagues are formed on two different criteria, enrollment and geography, and we’re a little bit all over the board. I think the third factor that needs to go into that is competitive balance where teams match up because they’re competitive with each other, not because you’ve had success or where your kids come from or anything like that. I’m talking about true competitive balance.”