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Bridges aren’t burnt

Huntington, Leo say conferences OK with switch

– Huntington North and Leo will join a new conference in a couple of years with no hard feelings toward or from their former athletic homes.

Six current members of the disbanding Northeast Hoosier Conference added Huntington North and Leo to a form new conference Thursday.

“This is a move that we feel is the best for our student-athletes,” Huntington North athletic director Mike Gasaway said. “We have been very upfront with the (North Central Conference) that there was a potential that we felt like if we did get invited we would be leaving the conference to join the new conference.”

Huntington North, which is currently in the NCC, and Leo of the Allen County Athletic Conference will join Bellmont, Columbia City, DeKalb, East Noble, New Haven and Norwell in the new conference.

“The ACAC was not forcing our hand at all,” Leo athletic director Brock Rohrbacher said. “We had a home, and the ACAC made it very clear that we had a home. That took the pressure off of us.

“The time is just right. The school has changed just enough that we need to do something.”

The unnamed conference will begin play in 2015, just after the NHC disbands.

“As a school, we made the decision that this was something we needed to do,” Rohrbacher said. “We are just thankful that those six schools chose us.”

Rohrbacher cited more playing opportunities in all levels of play – varsity, junior varsity and freshman – as one of the main reasons for Leo, the ACAC’s largest school, leaving for the new conference.

“It gives our kids more opportunities to participate because the larger schools will field more teams,” Rohrbacher said.

The “NHC 6” heard presentations last week from four area schools and chose Huntington North and Leo this week. Concordia and Angola were the other two schools.

“That’s always been a conference (NHC) that even when Huntington North was searching for a conference before the NCC opened its arms, that people always said that makes the most sense,” Gasaway said. “With the NHC breaking up in 2015-16, it just allowed us an opportunity to talk with those schools and see what they were looking for.”

Gasaway said geography and more media attention from Fort Wayne as two reasons for the move.

“I don’t want it to be all about the transportation,” Gasaway said.

“Geographically when you put it on the map, … (the new conference schools) are right there, and they are great rivalries.”

gjones@jg.net

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