YCS announces it will pull out of AAC
By Dan Hiner
The Youngstown City Schools announced plans on Tuesday to leave the All-American Conference after the fall of 2018.
Rick Shepas, chief of physical development and athletics for Youngstown City Schools, said the school districts’ coaches voted unanimously to leave the conference on Monday.
East High School sports teams are a combination of athletes from all Youngstown City Schools, and the only active prep sports program in the city. With the recent decision to revive Chaney High School athletics, the current East rosters will be separated to accommodate Chaney.
“With our enrollment numbers being split in two, the alignment in the Red Tier [of the AAC] was certainly not the best choice for us,” Shepas said. “Obviously this has a lot to do with the research I’ve done and the conversations I’ve had, but I don’t second guess the decision one bit.
“There are tremendous advantages to playing in a conference. And I don’t think there’s any question that it’s been a blessing for us to be in the conference.”
East and Chaney will compete as independents starting after the fall of 2018.
East played in the AAC Red Tier for the past several years. Youngstown City Schools proposed a plan to include Chaney into the AAC and realign the tiers to accommodate East’s decrease in student-athletes.
The tiers are determined by enrollment, with the Red Tier comprised of the largest schools, aside from football, in which Austintown Fitch, Boardman, Warren Harding and Lakeside make up the Gold Tier.
Shepas said the Red Tier wasn’t a viable option for East and Chaney. He said the purpose of the move is to give the Youngstown student-athletes a chance to compete and do what’s best for them.
He thanked the AAC for allowing Youngstown City Schools to participate in the conference, and for allowing East’s baseball and softball to play in the Blue Tier.
Shepas said there haven’t been any conversations about joining another conference. He said the school district will try to compete against AAC teams but needs to be creative when making schedules to the athletes have the same opportunities.
AAC Commissioner Rich King said he was not aware of Youngstown City Schools’ decision. He did not comment on the matter, and said he would not until he received official word from the Youngstown athletic department.
Shepas said the Commissioner’s office was informed of the decision on Friday. He said King and Tim Saxton, Boardman’s superintendent and chair of the AAC, were notified after a decision was reached.
“I made Rich King aware of this decision on Friday,” Shepas said. “He was fully aware of this, he knew exactly what our position was. I stated our position in several meetings, transparently, since July. I also made the same phone call to Mr. Saxton. In both of those conversations, I said I would have a conversation with [Youngstown City Schools] CEO Krish Mohip and [Youngstown Superintendent] Joe Meranto and I would hold a vote on Monday. I told him I was holding a vote, I told him I was talking to Joe Meranto and Krish Mohip, and I told him I would not make a decision until [Meranto] and Krish Mohip weighed in on the conversation.
“Once they did, commissioner King and Mr. Saxton knew exactly what our position was, exactly.”