The Miami Valley Conference has decided against adding Roger Bacon and Purcell Marian high schools as full-time members, instead offering both schools associate memberships in football.
Seven Hills athletic director Brian Phelps, the MVC president, made that announcement Thursday after a special meeting of the MVC athletic directors at Seven Hills.
“We were unable to come to any kind of conclusion to add Purcell and Roger Bacon as full members at this time,” Phelps said. “I have reached out to both schools to gauge their interest in considering being associate members for football only starting in the 2019-20 school year.”
Phelps said he spoke to Purcell principal Andy Farfsing and Bacon athletic director Steve Rossi.
“I would say they seemed thankful for us to consider talking about their membership and thought it was an interesting conversation to continue within their schools,” Phelps said. “There’s no timetable or anything like that, but I expect that I’ll hear from both of them sooner than later. It’s kind of in their court to see if that’s even an option they want to consider.”
Asked if there was an official vote on the Purcell and Bacon applications, Phelps had this to say:
“We talked about multiple scenarios, and we felt this was the best scenario at this time. I think it shows as a league that we’re not rushing into anything. We obviously don’t take this decision lightly. We’re trying to make sure that our decisions are truly in everyone’s best interests.”
Bacon and Purcell officials have expressed their desire to leave the Greater Catholic League Coed Division because of travel and competitiveness issues, particularly in football.
Butler County’s Cincinnati Christian and New Miami are MVC members. CCS athletic director Steve Gillens said if a vote had been taken on the two applications, his school would’ve voted no.
“We were concerned about two big private schools coming in that didn’t have anything to offer as far as middle school was concerned,” Gillens said. “It was definitely going to be more competitive, which is OK, but there was an imbalance with two more private schools. That could change down the road if another public school comes into the picture to keep that balance. I think that’s what makes the MVC unique.”
He has no problem with adding Purcell and Bacon for football.
“That doesn’t affect me because we don’t have football,” Gillens said. “But it helps our conference as far as football is concerned, so I’m OK with that piece of it.”
Rossi admitted he was caught off guard by Thursday’s announcement.
“I was expecting a decision one way or the other just on membership,” he said. “But we’re going to give this every bit of attention that it deserves for us to think about.
“Football wasn’t necessarily the driving force that made us want to look for another league, but with any league, football can create its own situations and scenarios. The MVC saw a need. I’m not going to put any words in their mouths, but I think this was sort of a compromise for them to help their league football situation.
“Since we’ve been thinking about all these different scenarios, I don’t think it will take us much time to come up with a decision. I just need to be able to sit down with our coaches and administration to come up with that decision in an educated way.”
Phelps made it clear the MVC won’t shut the door on adding Purcell and Bacon as full-time members in the future if they continue to show interest.
Asked if Bacon would keep pursuing that avenue, Rossi said, “I don’t want to say yes or no and then have to backtrack, but it’s definitely a possibility.”
Thursday was an important day for the GCL Coed as well. A meeting was held in Hamilton that included athletic directors and football coaches from the GCL Coed and the Columbus-based Central Catholic League to discuss future scheduling scenarios.
The two leagues are exploring the possibility of a football alliance with or without Purcell and Bacon.
Those two schools were part of that meeting and joined fellow GCL Coed members Badin, McNicholas, Fenwick, Chaminade Julienne, Carroll and Alter. Representatives from Hartley, Ready, Watterson, St. Charles and DeSales were also in attendance.
“Nothing was resolved, but a lot of ideas and concerns and interests were expressed,” GCL Coed commissioner Tom Donnelly said. “I think for the GCL Coed, there are a lot of very viable and possibly very favorable choices that we could make. This meeting suggests that however things shake out with our internal league discussions about football, we have some very interesting options.
“We have one person in each league who is going to collect some information about records and size of schools so there’s more information to look at with a more historical view of where these football programs have been and might be going. If we did schedule with each other, we would certainly want to take current competitive strength into account in creating that schedule.”
Donnelly felt it was important for Purcell and Bacon to be part of the meeting, and Rossi said it was a positive experience from his perspective.
“If we’re not going to be in the MVC, if this works for us, we would be interested in what this would look like,” Rossi said. “It seems like there could be some good compromises and scenarios, but everybody has to see some sort of benefit in order for it to work.”
For Donnelly, one thing became clear Thursday. Beyond football, the GCL Coed will be an eight-school, one-division league in 2019-20 after competing with Central and North divisions since play began in 2013-14.
How scheduling will work with those sports has yet to be finalized. The amount of travel to Hamilton, Middletown and Dayton was a big reason why Purcell and Bacon applied to the MVC in the first place, so they may very well push for more scheduling based on geography.
Said Donnelly, “I’ll wait to see what they say and do because I’m not sure what they might be thinking at this time.”
He said the GCL Coed athletic directors will have their next monthly meeting May 2. The next day, there will be a meeting of principals and ADs from the GCL Coed and the CCL “just to see where everybody is.”
Football-wise, Donnelly said what’s next is at least a two-stage process. No. 1, what will Purcell and Bacon decide to do? No. 2, if they decide to become MVC members for football, he said they’ll need GCL Coed approval to play outside the league in that sport.
“Leagues don’t operate on an a la carte basis,” Donnelly said. “We’re a league, they’re in the league, and the league has a football schedule. If you’re not going to play the league schedule, that’s not a unilateral decision. That’s a league decision. Those are things we need to talk about.”