Four Eastern Connecticut Conference schools announced Tuesday they were officially breaking ties with the league and forming a new athletic conference,
Ledyard, Fitch, East Lyme and New London will form a new league called the Southeastern Connecticut Athletic Conference — SCAC — in “an alliance that preserves traditional rivalries,” according to a press release from Ledyard High School Principal Amanda Fagan.
The four schools will form the basis of the new league, which will co-op with the Southern Connecticut Conference in an attempt to fill its schedules. The schools said they also attempt to maintain long-standing rivalries with its neighbors.
[Updated] With seven northern ECC schools applying to the NCCC and five that were looking for membership in the Shoreline Conference over the past two months, the ECC principals met Thursday morning in yet another last-ditch attempt to keep the league together, according to The Day of New London.
The four schools announced their decision shortly thereafter, citing the ongoing instability.
“Nobody committed to the ECC long term. Nobody said, ‘we’re all in,’” Stonington principal Mark Friese told The Day of New London’s Mike DiMauro. “So the fact that four schools decided to leave doesn’t surprise me. I just didn’t think it would happen this fast.”
The four schools did not specify when they intended to begin as a conference. A majority of fall schedules have already been determined across the state for the fall of 2015.
Ledyard athletic director and football coach Jim Buonocore said via text message that the SCAC schools would let the remaining ECC members decide when they could leave, which could mean a start date of Fall 2016.
“This was not an easy decision to make for any of us, but like all the other schools in the current ECC, we need to do what’s best for our student-athletes,” East Lyme principal Mike Susi said in the release. “With this change, we are looking to maintain the long-standing traditions of competition with these local schools while ensuring a stable future for our student athletes and our community.”
“As difficult as it was to come to this decision to leave the ECC, it was right choice for our students and our community,” Fitch principal Joe Arcarese said in the release. “Our athlete deserve a fair opportunity to compete, and given the current instability in the ECC, we couldn’t be certain that was going to be the case if we stayed.”
The four SCAC members said they were open to expansion with other former member ECC schools. “Certainly we value the relationships we’ve established over the years with other local schools and we would welcome the opportunity to build upon some of those relationships in the SCAC as other schools apply to join us.,” Fagan said in the release.
But the Day reported that the only game commitments the SCAC is willing to make with future, ex-ECC partners is maintaining Thanksgiving football rivalries, unless they join the new league under their rules.
SCC commissioner Al Carbone said his league would explore scheduling options with the new league, especially a football arrangement. The SCC seemed to be prepared for the possibility of a crossover when it only agreed to a 1-year schedule for football.
“With everything that’s going on, it’s in our members’ best interest to have as much scheduling options as possible,” Carbone said Thursday. “With all the changes happening with safety and schools looking for competitive games, we have to think ahead.”
[Update] Meanwhile, of all the ECC schools, it seems NFA has been left out of everybody’s plans.
“We have had no conversation with those schools, we were not contacted,” AD Gary Makowicki told the Norwich Bulletin. “I’m going to have to sit down with my administration and discuss where we go from here. This was sudden and unexpected.”
In that story from the Norwich Bulletin, Friese said he felt the ECC was now in a “favorable position” without the SCAC four and would work to preserve itself.