Wake County’s schools have had their say, and what they said was a mouthful.
Hoping to avoid entry into the Piedmont Athletic Conference, representatives from Panther Creek and Green Hope high schools presented several options last week to the N.C. High School Athletic Association’s realignment committee, which met in Chapel Hill.
If those schools from the Cary area have their way, they’ll stay in a conference with other Wake schools. But the practical effect would be to keep Chapel Hill-Carrboro’s schools split in three different conferences in three separate classifications.
The NCHSAA has proposed that, beginning in the 2013-14 school year, Green Hope and Panther Creek, be aligned with Durham Hillside, Durham Jordan, Northern Durham, Durham Riverside and Roxboro Person.
Present PAC-6 members East Chapel Hill and Southern Durham would drop into a 3A conference with Chapel Hill, Orange, Cardinal Gibbons, Northern Vance and Oxford Webb, and joined by present 2A school Northwood.
Regardless of any alternatives presented last week, Carrboro would stay in a 2A conference with Bartlett Yancey, Burlington Cummings, Eastern Randolph, Graham, Jordan-Matthews, Providence Grove, Randleman and Reidsville.
Last Thursday, Green Hope and Panther Creek presented five different options to the realignment committee. All involve keeping East and Person in the 4A PAC-6, and all keep Green Hope and Panther Creek in a Wake-centric conference with their present Tri-Nine partners.
One idea drew Chapel Hill into the mix, bringing it into a larger conference along with East and most of the Durham schools.
The one Wake proposal that has drawn the most attention is the creation of a 14-team "super-conference," an idea drawn from colleges that have divided into leagues big enough to subdivide into divisions, such as the Atlantic Coast Conference’s "Atlantic" and "Coastal" divisions.
The mega-conference would comprise teams from Orange, Durham, Granville, Harnett, Person Vance and Wake counties — from Roxboro to Angier.
But Green Hope and Panther Creek had to acknowledge in Thursday’s committee meeting that none of their five proposals were endorsed by all of the schools that would be affected.
Person, for example, can’t be too excited about a potential 81-mile, two-hour trip during basketball season to Harnett County schools.
In a super-conference, football teams couldn’t play all league opponents within an 11-game schedule, so they’d have to be split into north and south divisions. Since they’re not likely to have a championship game prior to the NCHSAA playoffs, a la the ACC or SEC prior to bowl season, the practical effect would be to have two conferences within one, which leaves Panther Creek and Green Hope exactly where they want to be — in a new Tri-Nine with a different name.
The mega-conference would also create the strong likelihood of a split 3A / 4A league, which the NCHSAA abhors, and raises a myriad of questions about the number of playoff berths and seedings.
Other than that, the Wake proposals aren’t awful. The most likely one of those preferred by the Wake schools still would leave Chapel Hill, Orange and Cedar Ridge in a seven-team conference with Cardinal Gibbons, Northern Vance, Northwood and Oxford Webb. That’s very similar to the present state of things.
East Chapel Hill, which already is taking long road trips to Roxboro Person, doesn’t take on too much of a burden if it’s drawn into the Wake proposals, but it has to give up the idea of being in a conference with archrival Chapel Hill.
And there’s the problem for the NCHSAA committee.
The NCHSAA’s policy is simple: every team has to be in a conference. In the bad old days, everyone picked their own league, leaving some schools out in the cold, forced into long road trips to complete a football or basketball schedule.
The NCHSAA would like everyone to have what they want, and it would like rivals to be in the same conference, and it would like every conference to have at least six to seven teams, without splitting school districts.
But the first rule is "do no harm." The Wake Schools have lots of ideas of how they can get all of what they want, as long as someone else gives up something.
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