Preliminary discussions with Washington Catholic Athletic Conference have taken placeIn nearly 10 years as football chairman for the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association, Steve Walker has seen the difficulties the six A Conference teams can experience trying to fill out a 10-week schedule with competitive opponents.
One of the possible solutions, he said, would be a merger with the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.
The combination would create an exceptionally competitive football conference joining such Washington-area powerhouses as DeMatha, Good Counsel and St. John's with Gilman, McDonogh, Loyola, Calvert Hall, Mount St. Joseph and Georgetown Prep.
As first reported Thursday night by The Washington Post, Walker and a couple of WCAC officials met in late December to discuss the possibility of merging the two leagues into one with an A Conference and a B Conference. The merger, which is only in the exploratory phase, would be for football only.
There already is some crossover between the two leagues. Gilman and DeMatha have a long-standing rivalry and the MIAA A Conference champion Greyhounds also played WCAC champion Good Counsel last fall. Other teams in the two leagues have played each other over the years.
Walker, the athletic director at St. Vincent Pallotti, would like to see those games on the regular-season schedule.
"The situation has always been that ... the scheduling is very difficult for the A Conference," Walker said. "We're looking, in particular, to get more teams for the A Conference and for them to be in a very, very strong league. The B Conference would be very strong, too. You're talking about a couple of divisions in the B Conference. It would be very exciting for the Baltimore-Washington region. I think it would be a great, strong league for football."
At the earliest, a new league could begin play in the fall of 2011, but there are some large hurdles to clear to complete a merger, which would have to be approved by the heads of all 28 schools involved.
Playing a championship game -- which the MIAA A Conference does not have but the WCAC does -- would be one issue to discuss, as well as how the league would work around the Loyola-Calvert Hall game on Thanksgiving Day. Walker said the conferences would also have to decide how to deal with athletic scholarships, which the MIAA allows but the WCAC does not.
"Definitely five schools in the WCAC would come into the A Conference," said Rick Diggs, executive director of the MIAA. "We could probably even have two divisions, but in that case you would have to have a championship game, but we'd have to look at the Calvert Hall-Loyola issue. We could possibly put them in the separate divisions. That might work out, but we have a number of school heads who don't want their teams playing football in December. A lot of our kids play dual sports and you have basketball starting practice in late October."
Diggs is currently comparing the two sets of bylaws to see how they might be merged. He said the potential of a merger would be discussed at the MIAA's annual athletic directors meeting in June.