- Mike Hartsock
- Marc Pendleton Staff Writer
The mega-team Greater Western Ohio Conference apparently is on its way out.
Superintendents, principals and athletic directors met in the annual winter meeting Wednesday at the Huber Heights Athletic Foundation where a bomb was delivered: All of the American Conference North and South division teams want out. Their intention is to begin a new affiliation, excluding current GWOC South member Trotwood-Madison.
“Why is it that the only African-American school in that entire league isn’t allowed to be in (a proposed new) league?” Trotwood principal David White asked. “They didn’t (realign) based on geography or enrollment.”
This news outlet has reached out to American Conference ADs for comment and more information.
The GWOC currently consists of 20 teams with the most recent additions of Tippecanoe and Stebbins from the Central Buckeye Conference in the fall of 2016. That also led to an expansion of four divisions:
• GWOC American North: Butler, Greenville, Piqua, Sidney, Tippecanoe and Troy.
• GWOC American South: Fairborn, Trotwood-Madison, Stebbins, West Carrollton and Xenia.
• GWOC National East: Beavercreek, Centerville, Fairmont, Springfield and Wayne.
• GWOC National West: Lebanon, Miamisburg, Northmont and Springboro.
Sources say the split has been brewing for months and apparently came to a head at GWOC meeting when representatives from the 10 departing schools left the meeting early.
Of the departing schools, Troy, Piqua, Xenia, Butler, Sidney, and Greenville were all charter members when the GWOC was formed in 2001 when the Greater Miami Valley Conference and the Western Ohio League combined.
Coverage: Signing Day
Fairborn joined the GWOC in 2006, West Carrollton in 2010.
“There are schools in those marquee sports that won’t be able to feel they’re competing and have a chance to have success,” GWOC commissioner Eric Spahr said. “That’s a driving factor from those schools.”
The American Conference schools are generally smaller in student numbers – and divisions – than National Conference teams. The East Division has the largest schools.
“It appears the North wants to move on with the other four schools in our division, but not include us,” Trotwood Athletic Director Guy Fogle said. “We will realign with the National and move on. The GWOC will have a different look but it will remain a strong, impactful conference in the state.”
GWOC bylaws call for schools that plan on leaving to make written notification by April 1. Those schools must also agree to a two-year commitment to stay in the GWOC after making application to leave. However, that is always negotiable between Spahr and school administrators.
The GWOC’s 20 teams is by far the area’s largest conference and among the largest in the state. The Southwestern Buckeye League and Cross County Conference both have 14 members, although not all CCC teams compete in all sports. The Ohio Heritage Conference has 12 teams. The Central Buckeye Conference has 10 teams.
“I don’t know that (the GWOC) has out-grown its usefulness,” Spahr said. “There’s always energies to be had by large memberships like that. There comes a point of needs that larger schools have that smaller schools don’t have.”
Trotwood has undergone diminished enrollment through the years, but its athletic success is at an all-time high. The Rams (15-0) won the Division III football state championship last December after placing runner-up in 2016. Trotwood also was the D-II state runner-up in boys basketball last season.
All of the GWOC National Conference members are D-I in all sports, boys and girls.
Trotwood traditionally was lumped with American North teams in prior leagues, dating to the 1950s. It is located northwest of Dayton, bordering Clayton and Englewood (Northmont), Dayton, Brookville, New Lebanon and Jefferson Township.
“The hypocrisy of it all is when I came through the (defunct Greater Miami Valley Conference) Troy was beating us like we stole something,” White said. “They went on for years after that and the same thing with Piqua. Then Vandalia got on a run. We get on our run and suddenly we’re out. I have a hard time figuring out why (they) went ahead and did this.”