The Toledo Area Athletic Conference has unanimously approved Tiffin Calvert as its ninth full-time member.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” Northwood athletic director Reese Snyder said. “I think it’s a good move. It broadens everything up a little bit and it’s good for our teams from down there (i.e., Gibsonburg).”
Gibsonburg AD Matt Harp said, “Gibsonburg High School is excited about the addition of Tiffin Calvert into the TAAC and look forward to competing with them in all sports in the years to come.”
Calvert will begin playing in the TAAC in the fall of 2014.
“We’re very happy with the inclusion of Calvert into our league,” TAAC Commissioner Rick Kaifas said. “We think that they offer a top-shelf athletic program, academic success in all areas, and it’s a good feel for our conference.
“We’ll have some time to incorporate them into all of our schedules and I know a lot of the league teams already play them in certain sports, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to do.”
Calvert will join three area schools, Gibsonburg, Northwood, and Cardinal Stritch Catholic, and five other full-time members Danbury, Maumee Valley Country Day, Emmanuel Christian, Ottawa Hills, and Toledo Christian, but MVCD and EC do not have gridiron programs. Edon and Hilltop, members of the Buckeye Border Conference for all other sports, play football in the TAAC.
“The schools in the Toledo Area Athletic Conference have even furthered our strength by accepting Tiffin Calvert into the league,” Stritch athletic director Craig Meinzer said in an e-mailed statement.
“We are a strong league and just became that much stronger with adding a well balanced academic and athletic school such as Calvert. It is an exciting time for the Toledo Area Athletic Conference as we look to establish even more rivalries in our league with Calvert's addition.”
Calvert could boost the league’s football strength. The Catholic parochial school has been to the playoffs 11 times, including last fall. Calvert won back-to-back state championships in 1980 and 1981 and has been a state semifinalist four times with an all-time playoff record of 16-9.
“It’s a good fit that way,” Snyder said. “Obviously, we’re excited about it for football and the other sports that they bring as well — wrestling and they’ve been good at basketball. It helps round it out, but obviously nine is not a good number when it comes to scheduling for football because we’re going to have somebody with a bye, so that’s why we’re trying to pursue another team and put one more in so then we can get to 10.”
The search begins
The TAAC has already begun its search for one more school.
“We’re looking to add a tenth (member),” Kaifas said. “It has to be a full, comprehensive athletic schedule. We need a football member, but we’re happy with what’s coming in now and we’ll make due with what we have, even if we have to do some creative scheduling to make it all happen. We won’t be meeting again until late summer or early fall. We have no deadline (to find a 10th school).”
Calvert is currently a member of the Midland Athletic League, which is folding after the 2013-14 school year.
Six of the MAL schools are forming the Sandusky River League, but only two, Lakota and Fremont St. Joseph Central Catholic, have football. Sandusky St. Mary CC, which has football, has committed to leaving the Sandusky Bay Conference to join the SRL.
Lakota, which played a lead role in a Northwest Ohio domino effect affecting multiple leagues four years ago when it left the now-defunct Suburban Lakes League, is easily twice as large as the other six SRL schools’ average enrollment.
Four other MAL schools heading to the SRL, Bettsville, Fostoria St. Wendelin, New Riegel, and Old Fort, do not have football. Dave Schmidt, a league consultant and editor of TheSeniorReports.com, believes St. Mary should reconsider its options.
"SMCC has to think about rejoining the SBC, who just tabled, according to my sources, a membership bid from Vermillion. Quite a nightmare for them (St. Mary)," Schmidt told The Press.
According to Schmidt, the TAAC has asked the SRL “several times” if all of its members want to join the TAAC. It’s difficult to have a football league and schedule games with just three teams, but the SRL is turning down any merger ideas so far.
“We offered for them to come in as a whole league and make it a mega-league and who knows what will happen there,” Snyder said. “At this point in time they don’t want to — they want to go their own way.”
SRL commissioner Mark King is quoted by The Senior Reports, “The member schools of the Sandusky River League would like to publicly reaffirm their commitment to the new league. We will not be merging with the Toledo Area Athletic Conference and are moving on with the goal to make the SRL the best and most comprehensive conference in Northwest Ohio.”
Schmidt believes the SRL is digging a bigger hole for itself by not merging.
"Calvert made a move that helps them, not a selfish move by any means. SRL schools now find themselves competing with the SBC, BVC (Blanchard Valley Conference), N10 (Northern 10) and TAAC for members — not very good odds for them,” Schmidt said.
“They need to move now or they face a long wait for stability. SRL looks to be the big loser in all of these changes,” the consultant continued.