The one-year scheduling agreement, which was approved last week by the league’s athletic directors, has done away with the two-tier, four division structure used since Foran and Law joined the league in 2004 and created three divisions based on program strength, size, and the needs of each of the schools.
The league looked at the success rate of programs over the 12-years, with emphasis on the last five seasons, to come up with the new alignment.
It moved the traditionally weaker old Division I teams — Amity, Hamden and Wilbur Cross — into a new Division II alongside two of the strongest, old Division II teams Hillhouse and Foran.
It bumped the most successful old Division II team — North Haven — up to the new Division I.
The remaining programs have been folded into a new Division III.
Other considerations in scheduling included some schools’ desire for open dates to schedule out-of-league games, including those on Thanksgiving. Others asked for a full 10-game schedule.
The three divisions for 2016 are as follows (with 2015 class size noted in parentheses):
DIVISION I (8)
Xavier (LL), Shelton (LL), Notre Dame-West Haven (L), West Haven (LL), Fairfield Prep (LL), Cheshire (LL), North Haven (L) and Hand (L).
DIVISION II (5)
Amity (LL), Hamden (LL), Wilbur Cross (LL), Hillhouse (L), Foran (M).
DIVISION III (7)
Branford (L), Guilford (L), East Haven (M), Hyde/Career/Whitney (M), Sheehan (M), Law (M), Lyman Hall (M).
“For the first time in 12 years we have taken our league and ranked the teams based on competitive success and what we have found and have been finding is a big discrepancy between the top and bottom and a discrepancy in the middle,” said SCC commissioner Al Carbone, who developed this new format. “How do you mathematically divide a league that is not balanced? It’s impossible. So we’ve come up with this three-division format which has been discussed over the last couple of months.”
Carbone said promoting and demoting teams within the league been the most-pressing topic of discussion in recent years. Until now, it had never been done. Part of the problem of the previous two division alignment, he said, was that it was hard to gauge the strength of programs (particularly those in Division II) to determine which ones to move up or down.
The three-tiered alignment, Carbone said, will now give the league a better idea of where teams stand competitively, and will allow an easier way at future realignments from year to year.
“We’re going to see — finally — a way to create movement in our league,” Carbone said. “And this will help us find a more permanent solution.”
The commissioner also said room was created for possible future expansion with the ECC teams.
“I feel a lot better about this schedule than last year’s which was a compromise,” Carbone said. “Every school has needs and we can longer use excuses of why we didn’t move teams up or down. I call it a hybrid schedule. It’s three divisions, but those teams in that middle division are still playing teams in the upper division and teams in the lower division. Now you can get more data on how to rank the teams (for future realignments).”
Carbone added that crossover games were not uniform by design. West Haven and Fairfield Prep, for example, play three crossover games in the regular season because they are divisional rivals who play on Thanksgiving. Others, like Hand, Cheshire, Shelton, Amity and North Haven, were given two crossovers because they play other divisions or non-conference games on Thanksgiving.