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Potential SVC breakup concerns McDaniels



Published: Thu, February 7, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Warren Harding hasn't had much luck in finding affiliation.

By JOE SCALZO

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

YOUNGSTOWN -- No school stands to lose more by a breakup of the Steel Valley Conference than Warren Harding.

That doesn't sit well with Harding football coach Thom McDaniels.

"The people at Harding are very concerned," McDaniels said. "If Fitch and Boardman apply to the Federal League and are accepted, we're wondering whether they would still play Warren Harding."

Harding -- the only Division I school in Trumbull County -- would likely become an independent if Fitch and Boardman leave.

McDaniels has contacted Federal League officials about joining the league, but hasn't been encouraged by the response.

"We can't get a conversation with them," McDaniels said. "If the Federal moves east to accept Fitch and Boardman, why wouldn't they also consider Warren Harding?"

Another option: McDaniels has also looked into joining the Lake Erie League, but was told the league has "no interest in having Harding as part of the LEL."

Fitch and Boardman have been "very tight-lipped" about the move, McDaniels said. SVC commissioner Mike Butch hopes things will be straightened out when the league's athletic directors meet Tuesday.

"I asked [Fitch athletic director] Dick Kenney about the move at the last meeting and he said it was all bunk," Butch said. "Right now, we don't know what they're doing. Everything is in sort of a quandary."

Butch has been a strong proponent of expansion for the SVC and sent a proposal to Metro Athletic Conference officials last fall about combining the two leagues. The plan did not involve football.

"They turned that down," Butch said. "We thought we had an excellent plan. We've been trying to expand, but we've had no luck."

No contact: Cardinal Mooney has not contacted other leagues about joining, athletic director Don Bucci said.

"Last time we talked about it, Fitch and Boardman indicated that nothing was concrete," Bucci said. "We kind of thought it was a dead issue."

Mooney has been in the SVC since 1970 and was an independent in 1968-69, something Bucci remembers too well.

"It was very difficult to schedule during those two years," he said. "If this were to come about, we would definitely pursue any avenues about getting into a league."

Ursuline athletic director James Maughan said the school would make no moves until something becomes official.

"I really don't believe most of the stuff people are saying," Maughan said. "I only deal with the people directly involved. We're going to wait until we meet with the sister schools."

scalzo@vindy.com




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