DEAN’S LIST: IS IT TIME FOR ARSENAL TECH TO LEAVE THE NORTH CENTRAL CONFERENCE?

THE DEAN’S LIST BY DEAN HOCKNEY

When Indianapolis Arsenal Technical High School was brought back into the fold of the North Central Conference for the 2015-2016 school year, NCC administrators were thrilled that a charter member was returning to action after a 55-year absence. In fact, the conference released a statement that read: “The addition of Arsenal Technical High School into the NCC will now allow the conference to continue to plan for divisional play and conference tournaments in nearly all sports. The goal of the NCC remains the same; bigger, better, stronger and more exciting than ever.”

Two years later, that plan has backfired.

Last weekend, Tech forfeited itself out of the NCC baseball and softball tournaments and could not field a complete squad for the NCC girls tennis tournament. On top of that, the Titans did not have a boys golf team this year. Tech, and the entire NCC, should be embarrassed. And the question must now be asked: Should Arsenal Tech be removed from the Conference of Champions?

In baseball, forfeiting a tournament game has serious consequences. Last Saturday, instead of Lafayette Jefferson playing Tech in game one, they essentially received a bye to play top-seed Richmond in the second round. That meant fourth-seeded Jeff could save its best pitchers to play the West No. 1 seed Richmond, thus taking away some of the allure and advantage of being a No. 1 seed. Unlike softball, baseball has pitch count limits, so saving a team’s best pitchers is a huge advantage – and by Tech forfeiting its first-round game, they significantly altered the seeding system of the tournament.

Similar situations hold true for softball and tennis as the teams that earned a forfeit win received additional rest going into the next round. Add in the fact that Tech fans do not travel well to other schools – thus diluting the financial gate for NCC schools – and I believe the conference has a serious issue it needs to discuss.

While the recent addition of Harrison, McCutcheon and Lafayette Jeff has indeed made the conference stronger – they are currently one, two and three in the NCC all-sports standings – Arsenal Tech has not. Statistically, they should be a strong competitor. With an IHSAA enrollment figure of 1,940 students in grades nine through 12, they are the 33rd largest high school in the state and second in the Conference (Lafayette Jeff has 2,031 students). Unfortunately, the high number of students does not relate to fielding full teams.

In the original NCC press release announcing the addition of Tech, the conference said: “Additionally, the principals and athletic directors of the NCC will continue to seek other schools for future membership into the conference, as well as remain focused on what is best for the student athletes, coaches, schools and communities of the 10 member schools in the NCC.”

I think it is time for the conference administrators to seriously look at their own statement. What happened last weekend was not what was best for its student-athletes, and it was not what was best for one of the premier conferences in the state.

Until next time, remember to keep the man and ship in sports – and I’ll see you at the game.

Dean Hockney is the publisher of the Sports Journal of Central Indiana. You can follow him on Twitter (@Sports_Journal) for the latest in local sports news and in-game reports.

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