LKC looking into expansion

RIPLEY-NCAA Division I isn’t the only group of institutions undergoing reconstruction thanks to the expansion bug.

When the athletic administrators of the 14 schools that make up the Little Kanawha Conference meet at 10 a.m. today at Shoney’s Restaurant, it is expected that representatives from Webster County and Wahama will be on hand to present reasons why the Mountain State’s longest-running small school conference should add their names to the members list for the 2013-14 season.

“I think that is going to be one of them (actions on the agenda),” explained Ravenswood AD Mick Price, who also serves as the Red Devils’ head football and boys basketball coach. “A couple of schools are asking for consideration if the league votes to expand.”

The last time the league elected to add schools, the two programs that were brought into the then 12-team league were South Harrison and Tyler Consolidated. However, recent changes in classifications as well as changes in sectional and regional alignments in a number of sports have apparently opened the door to these possible additions.

“Obviously, when you expand, you want to help all of the conference members you can,” continued Price. “Webster is already on the football schedules of all of the Class AA schools in the conference other than Ritchie County. Next, with the changes in many of the sectionals and regionals that we (the LKC) play in, we are now being matched up with those teams.”

Change is nothing new to the conference that has been around since the early 1950s. Former members Harrisville and Pennsboro joined together to form Ritchie County while the consolidation movement also resulted in the formation of Roane County (Spencer and Walton), Tyler Consolidated (Tyler and Sistersville) and Gilmer County (Gilmore, Glenville and Normantown).

“I think we (Ravenswood) were one of the original teams,” said Price. “I know that we, and Ripley, joined about the same time. When Ripley grew to Class AAA size, it left, but we were able to replace it with another school.”

The biggest obstacle facing the committee of athletic leaders will deal with an issue that WVU Director of Athletics Oliver Luck has dealt with during the Mountaineers’ inaugural season in the Big 12-travel.

A trip from Ravenswood to Webster Spring will cover nearly 146 miles and take more than two and one half hours to traverse while traveling from Webster to Tyler Consolidated will involve 20 fewer miles, but take 30 minutes longer.

There are several other possible trips that may be longer.

To address that scenario, Price has come up with a plan to divide the new 16-team, league into two 8-team, divisions-each made up of two 4-team pods.

“The pods would be set up in a way to help alleviate some of the travel,” said Price. “Each division would be divided into two pods based primarily on geography. Teams would be required to play each team in its pod twice and the other four teams in the division once.

“That would mean that each team would play 10 games in conference and would need to save one game for the Night of Champions. It actually would help with scheduling because you would have half of your schedule open to where you can play anybody you wanted to play.”

Looking at the present divisional makeup of the league, the North is made up of Williamstown, St. Marys, Parkersburg Catholic, Tyler Consolidated, Ritchie County, Doddridge County and the Red Devils while the South includes Clay County, Braxton County, Gilmer County, Roane County, Wirt County, South Harrison, and Calhoun County.

The addition of Webster and Wahama would allow for a 4-team pod made up of Williamstown, St. Marys, Parkersburg Catholic and Tyler Consolidated to exist while Ravenswood would be lumped in with Ritchie, Doddridge and Wahama.

“Just which team would be in which division, or which pod, would have to be discussed,” said Price. “But, it could open up scheduling for all of the sports except football.”

The additions would also hold little effect on the league’s championships as football already utilizes the SSAC’s final rankings to determine its champions while every other sport holds a season-ending event to crown its winner.

“Right now, I don’t know what will happen,” said Price.” I haven’t talked to all of the other ADs. I don’t know if a decision will be made immediately, but I do believe both schools will be represented at the meeting.”