Groveport Madison to stay in OCC, for now

By Rick Palsgrove
Southeast Editor

Groveport Madison’s efforts to withdraw from the Ohio Capital Conference and form a new athletic league have stalled for now.

“Groveport Madison is still interested in creating a new athletic league,” said Groveport Madison High School Athletic Director Steve Petros. “I have gotten a lot of positive feedback from coaches and community members about the idea, but the league formation that we were pursuing will not happen.”

Eight to 10 schools, primarily located south and east of I-270, had been in discussions to possibly form the new league. Petros said the schools in talks about a new league have geographic, demographic and socio-economic similarities. He said eight schools are needed to form a new league.

“The difficulty for forming the league we have been talking about was that we had four schools that were solidly ready to do it,” said Petros. “A couple schools in another league felt they owed their league a little time to correct the problems they were having. In the end, we also had a couple OCC schools decide not to jump because one of the schools they wanted to be in with withdrew.”

However, the process is not completely dead and change might still come in the future.

“The positive is that we believe we have four schools wanting to continue talks and see what our next steps will be,” said Petros.

Petros said the proposed new league would have provided stability, an equal voice, competitiveness, local rivalries, and easier transportation.

Groveport Madison would have had to notify the OCC by June 30 of its intentions to leave that conference if the new league had formed. The earliest the new league could have started if it had formed would have been the fall of 2020.

When asked what the reaction of the OCC has been to Groveport Madison’s efforts to leave the conference to form a new league, Petros said, “The only reactions I’ve gotten are from fellow athletic directors in the OCC who thought the group of schools that we wanted to form a league with made a lot of sense from a lot of standpoints including competitiveness and travel.”

Petros has stated that Groveport Madison’s interest in leaving the OCC and joining a newly formed league is because of the constant realigning of the OCC. He also said one of Groveport Madison’s goals is to get more competitive athletically on a consistent basis in all sports.

“We believe the OCC is a great conference,” said Petros earlier this year. “However, on the issue of realignment, single high school districts don’t have the same say as multi-high school districts. Alignment is the most important decision we make as a conference. Districts with multiple high schools have more votes when it comes to the OCC’s divisional alignments, which occur frequently. Single high school districts like ours have little say in the most important vote we take. If districts vote as a block, then two superintendents control 25 percent of the league and five superintendents control 50 percent.”

The Ohio Capital Conference recently realigned its divisions again effective in 2020-21. The five realigned divisions will be:
•Central Crossing, Groveport, Lancaster, Newark, Pickerington Central, Reynoldsburg;
•Gahanna, Grove City, New Albany, Pickerington North, Westerville Central, Westland;
•Big Walnut, Canal Winchester, Delaware, Dublin Scioto, Franklin Heights, Westerville North, Westerville South, Worthington Kilbourne;
•Dublin Coffman, Hilliard Bradley, Hilliard Davidson, Olentangy Orange, Olentangy Liberty, Upper Arlington;
•Dublin Jerome, Hilliard Darby, Olentangy, Olentangy Berlin, Marysville, Thomas Worthington.

Petros said Groveport Madison is disappointed that the new alignment separates the Cruisers from natural rival Canal Winchester. He has stated that Groveport Madison will try to schedule non-conference games with Canal Winchester.

The OCC began with eight teams in 1968 and has since grown to 32 teams located throughout central Ohio.

In its more than a century of athletic competition, the Groveport Madison Cruisers have competed in three leagues: the Franklin County League from the early 1900s to the 1957-58 season; the Mid-Eight League from 1958-59 to 1973-74; and the OCC from 1974-75 to the present.

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