APRIL 2, 2019 - COVINGTON
Yesterday was April 1st, which everyone knows as "April Fools' Day" - where pranks are pulled for the sake of fun.
Well, this is no April Fools' prank. Covington and seven other area schools will form a new athletic conference set to begin competition in the school year 2021-22. This became official on Monday as administrators and athletic directors from each of the eight schools met at the Covington Fire Department and formally signed a memo to work together to determine the needed details of the rules, governance and creation of the new athletic conference.
The eight schools who will form the new conference are Bethel, Miami East, Lehman Catholic, Milton-Union, Northridge, Riverside, Troy Christian and of course, Covington. Bethel, Miami East and Covington are currently members of the Cross County Conference and each school will remain in their current conferences for the next two school years. Bethel was a charter member of the CCC in 1978, while Covington has been in the league since 1991 and Miami East joined the CCC in 2006.
Former Covington Athletic Director Roger Craft has been appointed Conference Commissioner.
The name of the new conference has not yet been determined.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR COVINGTON?
There are many benefits to this new conference, but the biggest benefit - if things go as planned - will be higher revenues for all sports.
That's because there will likely be larger gates due to the close proximity of the eight member schools - less travel time to and from contests. The longest drive to any league contest is between 30 and 40 minutes, depending on traffic. Plus, due to the locations of many of the member schools, there are adequate places for those traveling to find dining options before or after games.
Another reason for larger gates will be the natural rivalries that will be established between member schools - again due to how close the schools are to each other. Covington already has fierce rivalries with Miami East and Bethel through their affiliation in the CCC. Covington will also renew rivalries with Lehman and Milton-Union from the old SRC (Southwestern Rivers Conference) days. In regards to maintaining rivalries with neighboring schools like Newton and Bradford or with other schools in the CCC, they can remain through non-conference games.
Another benefit hopefully will be an improvement in what has been a rather active topic around the state - competitive balance. By having eight league members instead of 13 like the CCC, the flexibility for Covington to schedule ideal competition increases - especially in non-league contests. For example, for a program that is expected to field strong teams on a consistent basis, Covington has the flexibility to schedule tougher non-league competition to prepare itself for post-season success. At the other end of the spectrum, for a program who may be struggling, Covington can schedule contests against equally matched teams in hopes of building interest through success - ultimately improving the program in the long run.
Also, with fewer member schools, it allows Covington to expand its search for junior varsity and junior high contests outside of the league. A common issue with the CCC over the years has been cancellations of junior varsity and junior high contests due to a lack of numbers in several sports. In the long run, this has hurt the growth and development of some of the programs.
Lastly, this new conference affiliation has long-time Buccaneer supporters excited. It brings back memories of the old TRC (Three Rivers Conference) and SRC (Southwestern Rivers Conference) days in the 70s and 80s where there were some historic battles in all sports. In those days, the crowds for the games made the environment that much better. It was common for fans to be turned away at the door at halftime of JV basketball games because the gym was already packed to the rafters. It was also common for the bleachers at football games filling up way before kickoff and the remaining fans standing two and three deep around the entire football field.
Hopefully, with this new league, Covington and its new partnering schools will see similar results.