Calvert leaves SRL?for TAAC

Calvert announced Monday it is switching allegiance from the yet-to-start Sandusky River League to the Toledo Area Athletic Conference.

The news came after officials from Calvert and the TAAC formally met earlier in the morning, with conference officials voting unanimously to accept Calvert as its ninth school to offer football.

Cardinal Stritch, Danbury, Gibsonburg, Northwood, Ottawa Hills, Toledo Christian are TAAC members in all sports, and Edon and Hilltop are football-only members.

Toledo Emmanuel Christian and Maumee Valley Country Day are TAAC members in all sports but football.

Calvert Athletic Director Scott Brickner said his school’s decision to apply for TAAC membership was not dependent upon football, but rather the stability and opportunity the conference offers all sports and athletes. It’s just that football garners the most attention, he said.

“Our board wanted a situation that insured that all of our teams – all, caps, underline, all, bold – all of our teams would have a full schedule, a fair shot to play for a conference title and a reasonable expectation of being able to make the playoffs,” he said. “In essence, they wanted it fair for all the teams. With the SRL, the other sports like basketball and volleyball and softball would have that opportunity, but football wouldn’t. And so all of our coaches that I’ve talked to understand that and they know that, and they understand if the shoe was on the other foot, they would want a different situation.

“And the TAAC gave us that opportunity,” he said.

Calvert will join the conference with the start of the 2014-15 school year.

TAAC Commissioner Rick Kaifis said Calvert is a welcome addition and brings solid athletics and academics, along with attractive facilities.

“My 2 1/2 years in this league have just been delightful. It’s a great group of athletic directors, principals and superintendents who have all their priorities in order, and (Calvert) will add to that,” said Kaifis, who was named the commissioner in 2011.

Kaifis said the TAAC will now focus on adding one more football school, hopefully one to the east of its base.

Merging the TAAC and SRL was briefly discussed earlier, but Kaifis said the SRL nixed the idea as whole, with Calvert then approaching his conference.

“It’s been a long, drawn out process and I’m just glad it’s over. I think it’s going to be easier to get the 10th [football school] than it was the ninth. And we’re very happy with the decision (Calvert) made to come with us,” Kaifis said.

“Basically, what we’d been looking for is to balance the league by getting a couple teams from the eastern side because most of the schools are in the Toledo area and going west,” he said. “With (Calvert) adding to Gibsonburg and to Danbury, we like the idea of bringing some people over from that side.”

The decision to admit Calvert comes 3 1/2 months after Sandusky Bay Conference member Margaretta spearheaded an effort to form the SRL with SBC member Sandusky St. Mary and Midland Athletic League members Calvert, Lakota, New Riegel, Old Fort and Fremont St. Joseph.

By the time the SRL was officially created Feb. 1, Margaretta had backed out.

The SRL unanimously accepted St. Wendelin, an MAL member in all sports except football, as a member March 19. The SRL will begin play with the 2014-15 school year.

St. Wendelin has a football team, but has struggled with numbers for the past decade, leading to the Mohawks leaving the MAL as a football member after the 2008 season. St. Wendelin will begin its second season of a two-year association with the Christian Athletic League of America for football this fall. The CALA has teams in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio.

The SRL has sought more football schools – New Riegel and Old Fort do not offer football – since its formation, but has yet to attract any.

With contracts being finalized in advance, Brickner said the thought of an SRL football schedule with only a few league games along with several non-league opponents of various sizes and abilities – ranging from much larger schools to those who might not be able to field a team for an entire season – was not feasible.

“The concept of playing Columbus Bishop Hartley [in football] wasn’t very appealing,” Brickner said.

“Even if we could get a football schedule together for 2014 [as an SRL member], along with all the other schedules, what would happen in 2015 and 2016?” he said.

“It’s difficult separating from these schools. We’ve been involved with them, some of them for generations. Our school board just felt this was the best decision for our kids, and I understand they wanted all their teams treated the same way,” Brickner said. “I know so many of those people at all those schools so well. I think it would be a shame not just to replace them in non-league contests, but to not be involved with each other. But those schools in the SRL in general will have to make that decision on their own.”

The entire process kicked off a couple years ago.

Five current MAL schools – Carey, Mohawk and Seneca East to the Northern 10 Athletic Conference in December 2011, and Hopewell-Loudon and North Baltimore to the Blanchard Valley Conference in July 2012 – announced they would leave for other conferences with the start of the 2014-15 school year.

The rest of the MAL sought teams to fill the void, but had no takers. The remaining members, minus St. Wendelin and Bettsville, then banded together with St. Mary to form the SRL and began seeking other schools.