Thomas More Prep, Larned and Hoisington asked several leagues, multiple times to accept them. Since no one would, the Kansas State High School Activities Association had a hearing on Thursday in Topeka, to assign the three schools to leagues.
"We started the process of applying around in early November," said Hoisington athletic director Joel Mason. "We've been rejected by numerous leagues, numerous times."
Before the meeting even started, the executive committee passed on some news about one of the leagues the stood to have one or all of the schools added. KSHSAA said it had a letter from Mid-Continent League member Osborne on Wednesday, that it was leaving the league. Osborne joined Trego Community, who announced last month they were out of the MCL. Both schools are 1A and had voiced concern over the possibility of 3A or 4A schools joining the league.
With that news, the MCL let the board know, it would be open to accepting TMP, if KSHSAA assigned them to its league.
KSHSAA heard from all three schools and from two of the three possible leagues they could have been assigned to.
First up was Thomas More Prep. Principal Bill DeWitt and Athletic Director Gene Flax gave the board a little history about how they got to this point. A couple of years ago the three schools in question formed the MCAA along with Ellinwood when they found themselves with out a league. The four schools had always hoped to either expand the MCAA or merge it with a different league.
"But that was unsuccessful," DeWitt told the KSHSAA board. "So we decided as a league to pursue options individually as schools."
Ellinwood landed in the Central Plains league. The other three could not find leagues to accept them.
DeWitt expressed his appreciation in the partial change of heart by the MCL, even though it wasn't an outright invitation. But he added TMP's first choice would be to join the North Central Activities Association, because that league has more schools of similar size. The MCL is made up mostly of 1 and 2A schools.
Hoisington told the board it would prefer to be in either the NCAA or the Central Kansas League. Both leagues offered simliar travel and had schools of similar size. Hoisington is also a 3A school.
Larned, which is a 4A school was also looking for entry either in the NCAA or the CKL.
The MCL chose not to address the board, but both the CKL and NCAA sent representatives to make a case against having teams added to their leagues. Both were concerned about travel times to and from the more Westernly located schools.
The board took every little time to deliberated before voting unanimously to add Thomas More Prep to the MCL, Hoisingon and Larned to the CKL.
TMP reps said they were happy to be headed to a league that was open to having them as a new member.
"The difficult thing about this process is you don't want to get in a situation where you are not wanted," said DeWitt. "And I think the MCL had incredible dynamics in place because of population. But we have always had good relationships with many of those schools."
Larned and Hoisington are also happy, because they now have a home, that seems to be a good fit.
"I think it fists great, geographically and demographically," said Mason. "I just think its a perfect fit for us and I'm glad we got Larned on board with us."
Larned principal Troy Langdon agrees.
"It's been hours and hours of putting together maps and demographics, just the time alone was enormous. It's been a whole year of coming together to get this result and ultimately this is an exciting day for us."
The new league assignment will take effect during the 2014-15 school year. The schools in the CKL and the remaining MCL schools are not allowed to leave the league for three years with out KSHSAA permission or a unanimous vote of the league.
The MCL will be made up of Ellis, Hill City, Norton, Phillipsburg, Plainville, Smith Center, Stockton and TMP. The CKL will be home to Halstead, Haven, Hesston, Hillsboro, Kingman, Lindsborg-Smoky Valley, Lyons, Nickerson, Pratt, Sterling, Hoisington and Larned.