Earlier this week, Richmond Senior principal Cory Satterfield and athletic director Kevin Mabe made the trek to Greenville to discuss realignment with the North Carolina High School Association’s committee.
Nearly 20 schools made presentations to offer their opinions on the two previous proposals floated by the NCHSAA. The first was a computer-generated model which eliminated the split-class conferences.
In this proposal, Richmond would have been placed in a conference with Fayetteville schools Jack Britt and Seventy-First along with Hoke County, Pinecrest and Scotland. Current SEC members Lumberton and Purnell Swett would have headed east and into a league with Wilmington-based schools.
The second was created by members of the NCHSAA and generally maintained the current conferences as they are today. There were a handful of changes but none which could have been felt by Richmond Senior or members of the SEC.
It seems Richmond’s administration wants to keep the current makeup of the SEC together and add two schools from the Fayetteville area.
Mabe knows that idea is wishful thinking because the Fayetteville schools are wanting to stick together, which helps raise gate revenues, cut down on travel costs as well as time missed in the classroom.
With Cumberland County’s conferences seemingly remaining intact, it appears the SEC we see today will continue until the next round of realignment, unless the NCHSAA steps in and makes a huge change. The only way this might happen is if Lee County is left without a home or if a school like Anson County moves up in classification. And both of those are unlikely to happen this time around.
Another thing the committee is having to address is split conferences. In general, I am opposed to them and how they can unfairly affect the postseason with automatic bids. The Three Rivers Conference, which includes four teams from Robeson County and two from Columbus County, receives five berths in the playoffs — 3 in 1A and 2 in 2A.
There are only two 2A teams in the TRC, St. Pauls and Fairmont. Its teams get a chance to play in the postseason no matter the record, while other deserving schools get shutout.
The split conferences also create problems with the smaller schools having to battle bigger programs for league titles.
I am not the only one who is concerned about this. Representatives from West Craven addressed the committee at East Carolina University and said it is unfair.
The committee is set to meet again on Feb. 15 and prepare its alignment plan. Once that is released, schools will have an opportunity to air concerns on March 15, before the final plan is approved.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org