MAC, TAC to merge in 2008



The new All-American Conference will have three tiers and up to 16 teams.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
Superintendents from the Metro Athletic Conference and the Trumbull Athletic Conference voted unanimously on Thursday to merge the two conferences into a three-tiered league, beginning with the 2008-09 school year.
The vote ends years of discussion between the two leagues and comes on the heels of a failed expansion by the TAC last month.
The new league, which will be called the All-American Conference, will be separated into Red, White and Blue tiers based primarily on enrollment figures and will include all sports.
Tiers
Canfield, Howland, Poland and East Liverpool -- the four largest schools in the MAC -- will compete in the Red tier, although it seems likely that East Liverpool will opt not to join the new conference.
Niles, Salem, Hubbard, Lakeview and Liberty will compete in the White tier, while Struthers, Girard, Newton Falls, Campbell, Champion, Brookfield and LaBrae will compete in the Blue tier.
"We're very happy, believe me," said MAC commissioner Clem Zumpella. "To me, this is a start. There's a lot of work that needs to be done, but you have to have a starting point. Now we do."
Last month, the TAC voted not to add four MAC schools (Salem, Struthers, Campbell and Niles), prompting superintendents from the MAC schools to contact the TAC in order to find a resolution to the expansion problem.
"The one thing the superintendents realized was, the less time they took, and the sooner they met with the other schools, the better off they'd be," Zumpella said. "The longer you let things linger, the worse things get. You try to please everybody and you can't get things done."
Potters may look elsewhere
East Liverpool, which joined the MAC a little more than a year ago, will likely look elsewhere. The school district is fighting financial problems and the increased travel, combined with a lack of revenue at the sporting events, may prove to be too much.
"The transportation alone was killing them," Zumpella said. "There's a real good chance they'll opt out."
Due to contractual obligations, the league won't begin play until the 2008-09 school year.
The MAC and the TAC tried to merge with the Inter-County League a few years ago, but the TAC pulled out midway through the process. The ICL then merged with the Tri-County League.
The MAC has discussed expansion possibilities since the league formed in the early 1990s, but had little success, something that frustrated many in the conference, Zumpella included.
"You talk about frustration," he said, laughing. "It's like going to work every day for the last three years and talking about what to do with the copy machine. And after 20 suggestions everyone says, 'Nah, none of them are good.'
"My hats go off to the superintendents. They're the ones who got this thing done. They did a great job."
scalzo@vindy.com

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