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Death of the Steel Valley Conference

Harding, John F. Kennedy, East, Chaney set to leave

March 8, 2008
By ED PUSKAS Tribune Chronicle Sports Editor
The venerable Steel Valley Conference staved off death six years ago after Boardman and Fitch left for the Federal League, but it turns out one of Ohio’s oldest high school sports leagues might just have been putting off the inevitable.

The Tribune Chronicle has learned four of the SVC’s current six schools — including Warren’s own Warren G. Harding and John F. Kennedy — have notified conference officials of their intent to leave after the 2008-09 school year.

Chaney and East are the other schools that have reportedly served notice of their intent to bolt the SVC. If Harding, Kennedy, Chaney and East leave, just Cardinal Mooney and Ursuline would remain in the conference, which would all but kill the SVC.

Rumors that Harding planned to leave the conference began popping up a few days ago. On Friday night, a Youngstown television station reported Harding, Kennedy and the two Youngstown public schools had filed the required paperwork.

Harding athletic director Paul Trina declined to comment on the report, but Kennedy athletic director John Gillen confirmed the Eagles’ athletic teams — which had competed in the SVC in every sport except football since 2004 — would leave the conference.

The issue for JFK, he said, was the size of the school compared to the others in the SVC.

‘‘We notified them because of our size we just weren’t a fit,’’ Gillen said. ‘‘That’s as far as it went with us. I just let them know that.’’

Officials from Chaney and East could not be reached for comment on Friday night.

At press time late Friday, SVC commissioner Mike Butch had not returned a message seeking comment.

SVC bylaws state that schools seeking to leave the conference must notify the SVC prior to its winter banquet. The banquet is set for Tuesday night.

Butch is expected to make a statement at that time.

Ursuline athletic director Jim Maughan referred questions to Butch. Cardinal Mooney athletic director Don Bucci could not be reached for comment on Friday night.

Gillen said Kennedy, which had been an independent for more than a decade before joining the SVC, will seek another league affiliation.

‘‘We’d like something where we could compete in all the sports,’’ Gillen said.

The Kennedy AD said the school has no solid leads at this point.

‘‘But we certainly are looking,’’ he said.

Gillen lamented what might be the end of the SVC.

‘‘That league has had a tremendous tradition for so many years,’’ he said.

It just wasn’t a good fit for the Eagles’ athletic programs, Gillen said.

‘‘The Steel Valley was great. The people were great,’’ he said. ‘‘But our numbers just weren’t what they should be. Like I said, they’re nice people.’’



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