The Kalamazoo Valley Association will cease to exist after the 2014-15 season, multiple sources confirmed Wednesday.
League officials met Tuesday and six schools announced they would officially begin the application process to join the Southwestern Athletic Conference in the fall of 2015, though that process is mostly a formality.
The SAC extended invitations to Constantine, Schoolcraft, Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Central, Kalamazoo Christian, Delton-Kellogg and Galesburg-Augusta, and the acceptance by those schools essentially pulls the plug on the KVA.
“I can confirm that all six schools indicated they will fill in the official application that was asked of us,” Kalamazoo Christian athletic director Jerry Weesies said Wednesday evening. “Things have changed within the KVA and some of us are quite a bit smaller. Hackett and Christian will be combining in football next year. Galesburg was having a football numbers issue. I think creating a larger league is going to help us with smaller enrollments have a little bit more competitive schedules, especially in football.”
Twelve schools are currently in the SAC, with Lawrence switching to 8-Man Football and Martin considering the same move. That league nets four football programs with Hackett and K-Christian combining and Galesburg-Augusta planning to go independent. The SAC is talking to several other schools, which could push the total membership above 20. Weesies indicated Eau Claire and Coloma are also on the verge of joining the SAC.
“Football drives the car all the time,” Constantine AD Mike Messner said. “We aren’t going to be able to create a situation where every team is in a perfect situation for them. Every league, wherever you go, wherever you look, has a bottom and top.”
Messner is saddened to see the KVA dissolve, but he has peace of mind that moving on is the right decision.
“All that was happening previously was people pumping out ideas,” he said. “You’d go to a meeting or you’d get an email or a phone call, ‘Hey, what about this idea?’ It was bouncing around all over the place. The best thing for any of us in Southwestern Michigan is to have as many options as possible for future situations. If a school or two decides they want to do something different, go to 8-Man Football or change something, the league doesn’t fall apart. Eight-team leagues aren’t very strong because if a school or two makes a change you’ve got a problem.”
It’s Parchment and Comstock with the problem now, or at least fewer options. Multiple sources told JoeInsider.com both schools have been approached by the Berrien-St. Joseph-Cass (BCS), which will form next season. Comstock is currently in the Wolverine Conference but was to begin play in the KVA next fall.
“A couple of schools can adjust a couple of things and we can still have options [in the SAC],” Messner said. “I guess where the world of high school sports is going we have to give ourselves as many options as we can. That’s why I think this is probably the best thing we can do.
“The KVA was a good league. I hated to see the [St. Joseph Valley League] break up; I hate to see this one break up. The truth is there weren’t eight solid schools that were ready to say we’re keeping the KVA just like it is. If you don’t have that, I’m thinking you’ve got a problem because in the next year or two something is going to happen.”
Messner confirmed the SAC has not put a cap on expansion and that this could be just the first wave of major change concerning Class C and D programs. Then again, getting that many people to agree on anything is a significant challenge.
“I have not been to any of those [BCS] meetings; I have no idea how that’s going,” he said. “Is there something here that could put all of Southwestern Michigan in some kind of a mega league like they have going on in Grand Rapids? That’s a possibility, I suppose. But every time we’ve tried to do that — jump from where you’re at to a big mega league — it never seems to work. Maybe it has to be one step at a time. I don’t know if it will ever get there. If we get to 18 or 20 teams in this league, maybe everybody will be content with that.”