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Railroaders return to NECC

Switch OK’d on 5-0 vote; travel time drives move

What was presumed to be a foregone conclusion indeed became one Monday night.

Garrett is rejoining the North East Corner Conference.

The NECC released a statement this month that the Railroaders were invited to rejoin the conference, pending approval by the Garrett school board. That approval came by a 5-0 vote Monday night.

Garrett is expected to become the NECC’s 12th member, tentatively by 2014-15, according to athletic director Chris DePew. That’s led to discussions, DePew says, about dividing the NECC into big-school and small-school divisions for football.

Garrett’s move back to the NECC after eight years was precipitated by travel logistics more than anything else, according to DePew. With Jay County joining the ACAC, Garrett was faced with the prospect of conference road trips exceeding 75 miles one way. It’s the only ACAC school north of Allen County.

“I think geography is the issue, but I think there’s two parts to that,” DePew said Monday night. “First, travel time for our teams and our fans, but also the travel times for our opponents and their fans. And I think the other geographic point is that the communities north of Fort Wayne are connected differently than Garrett is with those south of Fort Wayne.

“The big city divides Garrett and most of the rest of the ACAC. The communities north of Fort Wayne have actual rivalries and citizens whose paths cross in a much more natural way. (The NECC) feels like Garrett’s home for that reason, too.”