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FEDERAL LEAGUE SVC head hopes two don't go



Published: Wed, February 13, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Commissioner Mike Butch said the SVC wants to keep Austintown Fitch and Boardman.

By JOE SCALZO

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

YOUNGSTOWN -- Steel Valley Conference commissioner Mike Butch doesn't want to see Austintown Fitch and Boardman leave for the Federal League, but he knows it could happen.

"I personally hope they don't leave for a long time," said Butch, who met with SVC athletic directors Tuesday to talk about the issue. "We want them to stick around. I think we have a great conference."

Officials from Massillon Washington and Canton McKinley said Monday that they plan to send a letter of application to the Federal League. Boardman and Fitch will send letters of interest, but have not formally applied.

If Fitch and Boardman decide to leave the SVC in the next year, they must notify the league by March 19.

"I think it would be best to get the superintendents from all the [Federal League] schools involved together to talk about the issues," Boardman athletic director Jim Fox said. "There are a lot of differences to overcome to make something like this work."

Made contact: Federal League officials have not contacted Boardman or Fitch in the last month, but did send a letter earlier in the year asking them if they were interested in joining, Fox said.

School officials have repeatedly said they're not set on joining the Federal League and are simply exploring their options.

The SVC's athletic directors have expressed surprise about the recent announcements. Tuesday's meeting helped clear up some of the confusion.

"Everyone thinks we're hiding something," Fox said. "But it's hard to give out information that you don't have."

Strong support: Boardman's coaches met last week to discuss the issue and expressed strong support for the move. Federal League officials will not vote on new members until their April meeting.

Fitch and Boardman have been members of the SVC for 51 years. The decision to move has a lot to do with what's best for the future, Fox said.

"There has been a degree of stability in the conference," Fox said. "But there have been a lot of changes demographically in the area. Any decision reached here will affect a lot of people down the line.

"We have to ask ourselves, 'Is this in our best interest in the long run?' "

scalzo@vindy.com




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