Six schools awaiting word on AAC membership applications

By Steve Ruman

The list of schools seeking to join the All-American Conference continues to expand.

AAC commissioner Rick King on Tuesday confirmed that Youngstown Christian and Steubenville have submitted official letters of intent to join the league. The two schools join Boardman, Brookfield, Conneaut, East, Warren G. Harding and Ashtabula Edgewood in seeking admission to the conference.

Steubenville’s application is for a football-only basis.

On Wednesday, King met with AAC athletic directors to discuss the league’s future. They will meet again in April to offer up various proposals, including which schools to accept and how to realign the conference.

In May, superintendents from the schools currently affiliated with the AAC will cast a deciding vote on the proposed changes.

“Right now, we’ve asked the athletic directors to take all the information and put together what they feel would be our best scenario,” King said. “Which schools would best fit our future plans? How many tiers do we end up with, and which schools are in each tier?”

“We’ll also visit the facilities of each school applying for membership. We want to cover all the bases before making any decisions.”

King noted that ideally, he prefers a three-tiered conference with six or seven schools in each tier. He also said he believes the number of schools which will express interest in joining the conference is not yet complete.

“Right now, we’re a long way off from sealing any plans,” King said. “We just have to wait and see what we come up with, and with how the superintendents react to our plans.”

Youngstown Christian athletic director Dolph Carroll believes his school would be an ideal fit.

“Size-wise, we would match up perfectly with a handful of schools already in place,” Carroll said. “There are also schools within the conference which would create great rivalries, given the proximity.”

“Being in a league would give our kids something to shoot for. It would also alleviate a lot of our scheduling problems we now face.”

Meanwhile, Steubenville athletic director Fred Heatherington expressed surprise on Wednesday when asked about his school’s interest in joining the AAC.

“That’s news to me. This is the first I’ve heard of it,” Heatherington said. “If this is a football-only proposal on our part, you would have to talk to Reno (Saccoccia). He’s our football coach.”

Heatherington said he had no other comments on Steubenville’s possible involvement in the conference. Saccoccia was unavailable for comment.

The AAC currently includes 16 schools split up in two divisions. The American Division includes Austintown Fitch, Howland, Canfield, Poland, Niles, Beaver Local, Struthers and Hubbard. The National Division consists of Lakeview, Liberty, Girard, Jefferson, Campbell, Newton Falls, Champion and LaBrae.

Fitch currently competes in all sports but football. Beaver Local is leaving the AAC at the conclusion of the current academic year.

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