West Michigan Conference ADs vote to expand league.

December 19, 2019

West Michigan Conference ADs vote to expand league.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

The athletic directors of the West Michigan Conference recently voted unanimously for conference expansion with the possibility of creating a two-tiered league consisting of class B and class C divisions.

Mason County Central Athletic Director Tim Genson said the move is something he has been working on for several years.

“I am encouraged by this,” Genson said. “I think expansion could be a good thing for Mason County Central and other smaller schools.”

The WMC began as a class C league consisting of MCC, Hart, Shelby, Montague, Whitehall, Oakridge, North Muskegon and Ravenna. Since its beginnings several decades ago, schools such as Whitehall and Oakridge have grown into mid-size class B schools and Montague is reaching that category.

“By doing this, we would provide for schools in the conference to play more schools of like size,” said Hart Public Schools Superintendent Mark Platt. “There is a large disparity between the enrollments in the current WMC and this new tier would help minimize the enrollment disparity.”

Genson said one of the deciding factors in the move was a change in football playoff qualifications which will be a power ranking system. Genson said playoffs in all other sports are based on a team’s success in district and regional tournaments. Previously with football, a team had to have six wins in order to qualify for the playoffs.

Another factor is the difference between the opportunities available in urban areas versus rural areas.

“This has become more of a factor in the last 10 to 15 years,” Genson said. “Competition in an urban area is different because there are more opportunities for athletes in those areas to participate in non-school leagues, such as travel teams.

Genson said re-aligning the district could also reduce travel times and costs and, at the same time, increase fan participation.

“This isn’t just about varsity sports but also middle school,” Genson said. “Our middle school games often begin at 4 p.m. It’s not easy for parents to leave their jobs and drive down to Ravenna to watch their sons and daughters compete. A re-aligned district could mean more games are played closer to home.”

School districts interested in becoming part of the WMC have until the end of March to send a letter of interest and the end of June for applications.

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