The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

May 11, 2013

A Don McCormack column: A Spartan existence

Conneaut’s plight as it desperately searches for a league to call home branches in many directions

(Continued)

Looking back

A quick brush up on the not-too-distant past:

At one point, the Northeastern Conference was a 10-strong collective, through 1997.

Then, in 1998, the Premier Athletic Conference got off the ground and NEC members Madison and Riverside jumped ship and headed west.

When ancient rivals Ashtabula and Harbor consolidated to form Lakeside in the fall of 2001, the skids were immediately greased for the eventual demise of the NEC.

Wanting no part of matching up against two schools the size of Lakeside and Geneva on an every-sport basis, Pymatuning Valley, on its second tour of duty in the NEC, asked for and was granted its release to exit.

Still, the NEC stood at six — Lakeside, Geneva, Conneaut, Edgewood, Jefferson and Harvey.

On Thursday, Feb. 14, 2002 a merger of the six NEC schools and the five from the PAC — Chardon, Madison, Riverside, North and South — to form the Premier Northeastern Conference was announced.

Nonetheless, no one actually totally bought it was ever going to happen, the then-leaders of North and South, especially, leading the charge for it not to happen.

And, it didn’t as PAC schools Chardon, Madison, North, Riverside and South bailed on their NEC brethren on Monday, Dec. 6, 2004, roughly 34 months after the merger was announced.

Harvey — which the NEC had stepped up and accepted starting in the spring of 1987 (along with Jefferson, which was joining the loop for a second time) after the Painesville district threatened pretty much every conference across Northeast Ohio with a court case, claiming racial discrimination — defected to the Chagrin Valley Conference on Thursday, March 20, 2008.

When Geneva and Lakeside announced they were exiting, stage west, to join fellow former NEC members Madison and Riverside in the PAC, the fate of the NEC — one of the longest-running athletic conferences in Ohio — was sealed.

By the time Jefferson found its new home in the AAC two years ago, the plug had all but been pulled. The deed was done.

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