For many years, the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference has been an avenue for former Logan County high school athletes to not only further their playing careers but to also get an education.
County players have been staples on WVIAC teams over the last several years, especially in baseball and softball but also in basketball, tennis, football, golf and other sports.
But the WVIAC as we know it looks like it will be no more.
Nine football-playing members of theWVIAC will apparently leave the league to form a new regional, multi-state all-sports conference.
The new, yet to be named league would consist of 12 football-playing schools from West Virginia and also other schools from neighboring states.
The nine schools which are reportedly leaving are: the University of Charleston; Concord; Fairmont State; Glenville State; Seton Hill (Pa.); Shepherd; West Liberty; West Virginia State; and West Virginia Wesleyan.
The bolting of those 12 would leave the WVIAC in a shrunken state with only six schools left, including: Alderson-Broaddus; Bluefield State; Davis & Elkins; Ohio Valley; the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and Wheeling Jesuit.
Reid Amos, a West Liberty professor and spokesman for the new conference, said it is time for the football-playing schools to make an exit.
“There’s been a growing divide between the institutions that play football and the majority of the others that do not,” Amos told WV Metro News. “This is not a new discussion. There have been rumors going back for more than a decade that this league could split. The consensus among the leadership of the WVIAC institutions currently playing football is that it is in the best interest of their institutions to align as part of a new 12 member all-sports conference that will create increased exposure for its members across a regional footprint.”
The new conference, which is expected to begin play in 2013, is reportedly searching for three schools. The upcoming 2012-2013 academic year would not be affected.
“The divide has been growing,” Amos said. “When you talk about the investment that you have to make as a Division-II institution to include football vs. those that don’t have to make that (football) investment, it makes it very difficult to be a part of a single conference make-up.”
The WVIAC is one of the nation’s oldest collegiate athletic conferences. It was formed in 1924 and included West Virginia University and Marshall University as charter members.
In 2006, West Virginia Tech left the league and went to the NAIA’s Mid-South Conference.
Two Pennsylvania schools — Pitt-Johnstown and Seton Hill — were then added, becoming the first out-of-state WVIAC members since 1932.
The WVIAC switched from NAIA to NCAA Divsion II in the 199os.