Woodstock Academy will remain a member of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, the school’s Board of Trustees decided Thursday night, ending months of wrangling over the future of its athletic programs.
“I think it’s a response to the public outcry,” Woodstock Academy trustee and Pomfret Board of Education chairman Kate Cerrone told the Norwich Bulletin, which reported the news. “When parents are upset they are upset on behalf of their kids and I think that is something the Board of Trustees has to listen to and respond to.”
#ciac #ecc Woodstock Academy's Board of Trustees announces tonight that the school is staying in the CIAC. "We are very happy. We never wanted them to leave," CIAC executive director Karissa Niehoff said.
— Jimmy Zanor (@jzanorNB) April 13, 2018
Woodstock, a school of over 1,000 students, approximately 60 percent of whom hail from Woodstock and five neighboring towns, had been flirting with the idea of leaving the CIAC to become a full-fledged prep school.
A vocal majority of parents from Woodstock Academy’s six towns had been arguing against the move in at least two meetings with the school’s leadership, according to reports.
In addition to buying the nearby Hyde School’s property to accommodate its growing tuition student population, Woodstock started a postgraduate basketball program last year and announced its football team would be joining the New England Prep School Athletic Council (NEPSAC).
By doing so, Woodstock was running afoul of the CIAC’s membership bylaws, according to CIAC executive director Karissa Niehoff. The state’s governing body told Woodstock Academy it would have to make a decision: abide by CIAC rules or leave the conference.
The NEPSAC had also recently denied Woodstock’s application for full membership, the Bulletin reported.
By remaining in the CIAC, Woodstock must withdraw its football team from the NEPSAC’s Evergreen League and return to the CIAC and its undergraduate students must refrain from participating in the school’s postgraduate basketball program.
The Board of Trustees’ decision appears to be in opposition of fifth-year headmaster Chris Sandford, who argued in a public editorial last month that leaving the CIAC might be in the best interest of the Academy’s future.
Sandford declined comment to the Norwich Bulletin.