The Press Newspaper
It has been, in the words of Toledo Area Athletic Conference Commissioner Dick Nowak, "a work in progress."
"There has been a lot of movement with a lot of different leagues," Nowak said, "and I think that's going to continue."
The exodus of area high schools from one league to another continued this week when Gibsonburg, a charter member of the 37-year-old Suburban Lakes League, was accepted as a member of the Toledo Area Athletic Conference beginning with the 2011-12 school year.
"Gibsonburg will become a full member on Jan. 1, 2010, as far as them having meetings and discussions within the conference," Nowak said.
Gibsonburg and another SLL school, Elmwood, had applied to join the Midland Athletic League after learning that the SLL will lose five of its current eight schools in two years.
SLL members Eastwood, Genoa, Lake, Otsego and Woodmore will join with current Northern Lakes League member Rossford in forming the new Northern Buckeye Conference.
The NBC, which will begin competition in 2011-12, also added Fostoria as the seventh school, and last month the new conference members approved Elmwood as its eighth member school.
Gibsonburg and Elmwood were denied membership to join the MAL by vote of the MAL's executive committee on Sept. 8. Eight days later, Gibsonburg formally applied to join the TAAC.
On Oct. 6, at Emmanual Christian High School, Gibsonburg received the necessary votes needed to join the TAAC at the TAAC's monthly meeting for athletic directors and principals.
"It has to be a unanimous vote, and it was unanimous with the athletic directors," Nowak said. "Their vote was passed up to the principals and they voted likewise - unanimously - to take them in. The only hiccup was Gibsonburg's affiliation with the old SLL. The SLL game schedules go through 2011 and the TAAC goes to 2012."
"We were finalizing the agreement," Nowak said. "We had to dot some I's and cross some T's. They were jumping with joy. We welcome them. They fit with our enrollment at most of our schools. They have good facilities, a good fan base and their scholastics are very good."
Nowak said the TAAC will make Gibsonburg a full voting member of the conference on Jan. 1.
"They will participate in all of the meetings and discussions," he said, "and they will have a full voice."
Liskai, who doubles as Gibsonburg's boys’ basketball coach, said the school is "excited" to join the TAAC.
"It's a good opportunity," he said. "The conference has a lot to offer us and we have a lot to offer the conference. With all of the movement that's taken place, we're glad to have a home. We appreciate them accepting us."
The TAAC formed in 1988 when Danbury, Emmanuel Christian (then known as Emmanuel Baptist), Maumee Valley Country Day and Ottawa Hills joined together with Toledo Christian to compete in basketball. Cardinal Stritch left the Toledo City League to join the TAAC in 1995, and Northwood left the SLL to join the TAAC in 2001.
Nowak said future schedules for athletic events will be discussed at the TAAC's Jan. 1 meeting.
"We will try to accommodate Gibsonburg's early schedule needs versus our schedule needs," Nowak said. "The conference schedules would not be a problem. The problem would come with the contracts that are outstanding with the SLL and the TAAC and trying to work it out where we could get some released. If we can't, we'll just play them out and fulfill them after 2012."
The majority of the current TAAC schools compete in Division VI in football and in Division IV in boys and girls basketball. Gibsonburg currently competes in Division V in football and in Division III in basketball.
Liskai, however, said the Golden Bears' football and basketball programs will have dropped to lower divisions by the time they join the TAAC.
"We play a lot of the TAAC schools already non-league, so it won't be a big switch for us," Liskai said. "We have declining numbers here. We're losing enrollment. Our classes are getting smaller and it will be a nice fit for the TAAC. When we go into the conference, we won't be the biggest school. People don't realize that."