HOWARD — With five schools leaving the Mid-Buckeye Conference after the 2012-13 school year, hope for any future of the conference is about to run out.
MBC commissioner Ron Wintermute now says he assumes the league will disband in 2013, though it isn’t set in stone.
Centerburg, Fredericktown, Utica, Johnstown and Northridge have all submitted “intent to withdraw” letters, effective in two years. Centerburg and Fredericktown will join the newly-expanded Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, while Utica and Johnstown are charter members of the new Licking County League. Northridge is still expected to join them.
With the June 30 deadline to find and recruit new schools drawing near, the MBC will likely be left with just three — Danville, East Knox and Loudonville — by 2013.
That’s just not enough.
Should the three schools not find homes in the next two years, they will likely be forced to go independent.
“We’re doing what we can to salvage the MBC,” East Knox athletic director Derick Busenberg said. “Obviously, that would be the most ideal thing. It’s never good, financially, to have to go independent.”
Many conferences complete their schedules two years in advance — in some cases, even longer — and finding games to fill in the late portions of the season in any sport can be difficult, if not impossible.
“We’re looking at driving all over the state to fill the schedule,” Busenberg said. “That’s a great expense. Then, to add to that, we’re bringing in schools from a long distance away for home games, and their fans won’t travel, so we aren’t getting the revenue.”
Danville and East Knox applied for membership in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference. As of yet, they have not been accepted. The East Central Ohio League would also be a possibility; however, most of the schools in that conference are in Tuscarawas and Guernsey counties, over an hour away.
In either case, the two schools would be among the smallest in the conference. Danville, in particular, would be the smallest of any school in the MOAC.
Danville’s athletic director, Doug Selvey, could not be reached for comment.
Should the MBC fold, the schools won’t have to wait two years to find a home.
“They certainly won’t be tied to any two-year notice to go somewhere else,” Wintermute said.
The Mid-Buckeye Conference was first founded in 1948. Since then, it has disbanded twice, reforming for the final time in 1981 with four schools. By 1984, the group had seven: Centerburg, Danville, East Knox, Lucas, New Albany, Mansfield Christian and Worthington Christian. The league had to endure other defections, such as New Albany leaving in 1999 and Worthington in 2004. But nothing prepared the league for this.
“We just have to do what’s best for the kids,” Busenberg said. “It’s important that they compete, and we need to provide them that opportunity.”