No, Norwich Free Academy won’t be coming to the Southern Connecticut Conference.
You’re all shocked, we know.
The ‘They-love-us, they-love-us-not’ Class LL school announced Thursday it would stay as football members in dysfunction junction — aka The Eastern Connecticut Conference — brushing aside enticements of a full football schedule as a member of the SCC. NFA was being courted to become the New Haven area league’s 20th football team.
But NFA athletic director Eric Swallow rebuffed the invitation because — despite well-documented distain toward the massive, regional high school, especially from the smaller, rural schools surrounding it — NFA didn’t want to be the only team to abandon the conference.
Athletic director Eric Swallow said a number of variables affected the decision, perhaps most notably the unwillingness of other ECC schools to leave with NFA for the Southern Connecticut Conference.
“We didn’t feel like we wanted to be the only school to abandon the ECC,” Swallow said. “We have to do what’s in our best interest and we believe remaining loyal to the ECC is in our best interest.”
These comments come even after NFA was left out of the last breakup attempt just a few months ago when New London, Ledyard, Fitch and East Lyme announced the formation of a new athletic conference — the SEAC.
That conference lasted all of a few months before the ECC’s members agreed to scheduling compromises for this season and beyond.
Talks continued with the SCC into the fall, however, and a recent solution to bring the SEAC schools and NFA aboard as one of four geographical SCC divisions of six teams was bandied about.
But the SCC’s schools balked at the geographic solution and preferred a three-division, eight team solution. That reportedly kept the former SEAC schools from jumping ship (travel costs being a factor) and, ultimately, killed the deal for NFA — which was promised a full nine-game schedule within the SCC, allowing for its Thanksgiving Day game vs. New London to continue.
“There was some angst among the ECC (members) and all of them bowed out,” Swallow said. “We decided we didn’t want to make the jump and it probably would be best to be a little more patient.”
So, instead the ECC will (ONCE AGAIN) be realigned…
Division I will consist of NFA, Fitch, East Lyme, New London and Ledyard. Division II will consist of Bacon Academy, Waterford, Stonington and Montville. And Division III will consist of Killingly, Plainfield, Griswold and Windham.
Division III schools, despite being just four, will not be required to play any of the five Division I teams. That means those five schools will only have six guaranteed league games on their schedule. and will have to get creative to find three or four more games.
And with such draconian provisions in place you can bet your butt this isn’t over. Not by a long shot.
Update: SCC commissioner Al Carbone said he was “disappointed” with not getting the five ECC schools or just NFA into the league. The SCC ast year approved a one-year schedule in hopes of absorbing those schools. Now, facing another year with an uneven 19 teams, Carbone openly asked his league’s athletic directors to prepare themselves for some tough choices ahead in scheduling and realignment of the Division I and II makeup.
“I would hope our people — our ADs and coaches — are ready to have that conversation,” he said. “That’s why we tried to do this (ECC deal). We tried to set this partnership up to give our teams something different to look at. Getting to that even number of teams is very important because everyone in our league wants competitive schedules and they want full schedules.
“We’re back to square one now. We’re still at 19 (teams) and we’ll have to go back to the drawing board. I’m looking forward if people are committed to this league and if they’re going to to what’s best for the league. We have to ask ourselves, did we do everything to make (the ECC deal) work?”
SPB Editorial: In essence, this time the SCC is to blame — the lot of you — for failing to allow the ECC schools to become their own division. These teams are begging to be brought into the fold and your own squabbling over schedule relief and which poor massive school — like Hamden or Amity, or a Class L school like Guilford — will be allowed to drop into an easier division has killed it. Nice job, SCC. Between this and the FCIAC’s nonsense, leagues are killing high school sports.
It’s time for someone rule this state by fiat and adopt the district model.
For the love of God. It’s time.
District model, please.
End editorial, for now.