For the last 31 years, the Delaware Valley League has been a staple of high school athletics in northeast Kansas. However, the league’s 32nd year will also be its last.
Before the end of the 2011-12 academic year, representatives from eight DVL member schools met and agreed to break away from the existing league. They’ll form an entirely new league, which will begin competition in the fall of 2013.
The new league, which will be known as the Northeast Kansas League, will consist of four Jefferson County high schools — McLouth, Jefferson County North, Oskaloosa and Valley Falls — as well as Easton-Pleasant Ridge, Maur Hill-Mount Academy, Jackson Heights and Leavenworth Immaculata.
The six remaining league schools — Troy, Highland-Doniphan West, Wathena-Riverside, Kansas City Christian, Horton and Effingham-Atchison County Community High School — have decided to apply to other conferences, effectively ending the DVL era.
“Eight schools basically had talks during the last year and we decided the 14-team league had just gotten too big,” DVL president Andy Metsker said. “Unlike college football where they want to have mega-conferences, we want to go the other way.”
The Delaware Valley League, as we know it with 14 schools, will exist for the next school year. But come June 1, 2013, there will be no more DVL.
There’s been a longstanding history between several of the eight schools forming the new league. Before joining the DVL, Pleasant Ridge and the four Jefferson County schools were all members of the now-defunct Jefferson County League.
The existing relationships between those schools, as well as locations and rivalries with other DVL opponents, were just a few of several factors considered when deciding who would be invited into the new league.
“I think that core has always had a good relationship and has always competed well with each other,” said Metsker, who is also the principal at Pleasant Ridge. “The other schools were appealing because of travel and how we compete with each other. Jackson Heights makes for a little bit farther drive, but we have very good relations with those people, so we wanted to include them as well.”
Members from all eight schools met Tuesday in Oskaloosa to discuss specifics of the NEKL. League officers were elected and progress was made on constructing a league constitution.
“I felt really positive when I walked out of there,” Metsker said.
Metsker added league officials will try to meet four times during the 2012-13 academic year to continue preparations for the NEKL’s inaugural season.
Four of the remaining six schools have already received invitations to join other conferences. Riverside, ACCHS and Horton applied for admission into the Big Seven Conference. The league voted June 5 to accept Riverside and ACCHS, but Horton did not receive enough votes for admission.
“Admission takes a two-thirds vote. That’s what the constitution requires to get into the league,” said Andrew Gaddis, Hiawatha High School athletic director and Big Seven secretary/treasurer. “Effingham (ACCHS) was a longstanding member of the Big Seven, so everybody kind of knew what they were getting. With Riverside, we’re excited to develop some rivalries with them all across the league.”
The Twin Valley League extended invitations to Troy and Doniphan West before the end of the school year. Both schools tabled the decision Monday at their respective board meetings, but must have a decision to the TVL by Friday.
Horton officials discussed other options at its Monday board meeting, with the top priority being to apply to the NEKL.
“That would be our best option for the kids,” Horton principal David Norman said.
Other options included applying to the Twin Valley League or re-applying to the Big Seven.
Plans for KC Christian were not immediately known. Athletic director Alan Chugg was not available for comment.