Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association officials have opted not to pursue a merger with the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference that would have created an exceptionally strong football conference including the top private and parochial school programs in the Baltimore-Washington area.
Rick Diggs, executive director of the MIAA, said Thursday morning that the decision was made during the annual MIAA athletic directors' three-day workshop.
"We just decided at our meeting yesterday that we're not going to pursue the merger any longer," Diggs said. "No particular reasons other than we didn't have full support from all the A Conference schools. We decided if we had full support from all of our schools that we would pursue it, but there were some questions."
In December, MIAA officials met with WCAC officials to pursue the possibility of a merger for football only. Such a merger would bring Gilman, Loyola, McDonogh, Calvert Hall, Mount St. Joseph and Georgetown Prep into one league with such programs as Good Counsel, DeMatha, Gonzaga, St. John's and Bishop McNamara. Plans called for a league championship game which the MIAA A Conference currently does not have as it crowns its regular-season champion.
Crossover between the two leagues would have been nothing new. Defending MIAA champion Gilman and DeMatha have a long-standing rivalry and the Greyhounds also played WCAC champ Good Counsel last season as did Mount St. Joseph. Calvert Hall played St. John's last fall.
Diggs did not elaborate on the specifics of the sticking points in voting down the possibility of a merger other than scheduling and maintaining the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Bowl between Calvert Hall and Loyola.
"There would have been some difficulties to overcome like scheduling, how we would have split the divisions. There's always other things not worth talking about," Diggs said.
As for the Calvert Hall-Loyola game, plans for a conference championship would have made that game difficult to continue, because it is so late in November. Diggs said in January that some heads of MIAA schools did not want to continue playing football into December, because many athletes play two sports and playing that late would overlap basketball practice by six weeks.
With only six teams in the A Conference, scheduling has been an issue and Diggs said perhaps one or more teams would eventually move up from the B Conference. Last fall, B Conference champion Archbishop Spalding defeated Calvert Hall during the regular season.
No changes can be made for this fall, however, because the MIAA sets its conferences for two years and 2010-11 is the second year of that cycle. Any changes would have to wait until the 2011-12 school year.
"We know we have to strengthen our schedule and that's going to be up to our competition committee to look at it after next year and see how we can strengthen the A Conference," Diggs said. "We have to look at whether one or two schools need to go up and play in the A Conference. Any change would be for the 11-12 season. That would be up to the principals and athletic directors, They have to take a look at it and see what's best."