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Saturday, May. 25, 2024

3 schools express interest in NWC

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

Editor’s note: this story has been updated with information from NWC commissioner Jon Derryberry.

While it’s very early in the process, the Northwest Conference appears to be moving quickly to replace two departing schools.

In late April, Ada’s school board voted to withdraw from the NWC and on Sunday the Leipsic school board followed suit. Both schools are leaving for the Blanchard Valley Conference and will most likely join in time for the 2024-2025 school year.

Leispic just completed its second year of membership in the NWC after leaving the BVC due to concerns about that conference’s future and stability. The school was a replacement for Paulding, who left the NWC to join the Green Meadows Conference during the 2021-2022 school year.

“Leipsic would like to thank the member schools of the NWC for the opportunity to compete the past few years,” Leipsic Superintendent Greg Williamson wrote in a withdrawal letter to NWC schools. “The BVC has asked that we become members for the 2024-2025 school year. Once Leipsic has fulfilled its obligations to the league, we will rejoin a Blanchard Valley Conference that has evolved to a more favorable situation for the Leipsic Local School District and its student athletes. We wish the league and its member schools the best of luck moving forward.”

According to Lincolnview High School Principal Brad Mendenhall, the NWC has heard from three schools interested in joining the conference. Two of them – Liberty-Benton and Lima Central Catholic – have expressed interest in becoming full-time members. The third, Fort Loramie, is interesting in joining for football only.

Liberty-Benton is leaving the BVC by the 2025-2026 school year. Lima Central Catholic was a member of the NWC from 2006-2013, but withdrew amid concerns of an unfair competitive balance. The Thunderbirds now compete as an independent in all sports. Fort Loramie is currently an independent in football but a member of the Shelby County Athletic League for all other sports.

Meetings with those schools have yet to be scheduled. Mendenhall also said the NWC has reached out to several other schools to gauge interest in joining the conference, but he declined to name those schools.

“There’s still a lot up in the air and we don’t know a lot of information yet, but we’re certainly looking to add to our league since we’ve lost Ada and Leipsic,” he stated. “It’s going to be interesting to see what happens, but we just don’t know yet.”

Mendenhall added he may have more information on possible new members next month.

By telephone on Friday afternoon, NWC Commissioner Jon Derryberry said the conference held a special meeting to discuss Ada’s departure, but before Leispic’s decision to withdraw. He also said another meeting will be held next week to discuss what’s next, including the possible addition of new members. He also said he can make suggestions but doesn’t have a vote, meaning the final decision is up to NWC principals.

The Northwest Conference was formed in 1947, with Columbus Grove, Delphos Jefferson, Elida, Forest, Lafayette-Jackson, Pandora-Gilboa, Shawnee and Spencerville serving as founding members. Over the years, the conference has undergone a number of changes, with the most recent being Paulding’s departure and Leipsic’s arrival in 2021, Lima Central Catholic’s withdrawal in 2013, and Lima Perry’s departure in 2004.

POSTED: 05/25/23 at 9:46 pm. FILED UNDER: Sports