By Doug Chapin
The All-American Conference increased in size to 20 schools on Monday as five new members officially joined its ranks. Boardman, East, Warren Harding, Brookfield and Ashtabula Edgewood are the new members.
League commissioner Rick King has said the league hopes to have the new teams begin conference play with the 2014 spring season. Conference play would begin in all other sports with the exception of football at the start of the 2014-15 school year, with the inclusion of football in the fall of 2015.
The league’s superintendents voted on May 1 to invite the five schools, plus Pymatuning Valley. The five who are joining the league gained approval from their boards of education since that time.
After beginning its existence in 2008 as a three-tiered league the AAC currently has two divisions.
The American Division includes Austintown Fitch (all sports but football), Canfield, Poland, Struthers, Hubbard, Niles and Howland.
Beaver Local left the AAC after this past school year and the American Division will have just six members for football for the 2013 season .
The National Division includes Campbell, Girard, Liberty, Lakeview, Champion, LaBrae, Newton Falls and Jefferson.
Newcomers Boardman, Warren Harding and East are expected to provide enough larger schools that Austintown Fitch will also compete in football.
The league also has received interest from Steubenville and Massillon regarding membership for football only. King said previously that the league would address that interest once this year’s expansion process was completed.
It is expected that the league would go to a four-tiered set-up for football and three tiers for other sports. The league also plans that within each tier schools would play tier opponents twice each. The current schedule has schools in the same division in some sports playing some division opponents twice and some just once.