Dover addresses conference interest in statement; football excluded from league option talks


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Dover High School released a statement on Tuesday addressing reports of the school’s interest in joining one of the local athletics conferences.

Via the joint statement from Dover Athletic Director Tim McCrate and Principal Brooke Grafe, the school sent letters to over 200 administrators at more than 70 schools representing seven area athletic conferences, informing them of Dover’s “interest in their respective organizations and requesting an opportunity to talk with their league members this fall.”

Dover, which is currently operating as an independent public high school after its former conference, the East Central Ohio League, was disbanded following the 2021-22 school year, claims to have only officially applied to the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference – of which Dover is a member of the AAAAA Class – and the Ohio Cardinal Conference, which the Crimson Tornadoes’ rival school, New Philadelphia, joined after the 2021-22 year.

Dover also addressed an interest in the growth of conferences that may transform into split-division leagues based on population or geography, citing “‘big-small’, ‘east-west’, or ‘north-south'” examples of conferences that would otherwise be “too big” or “too small”, according to Dover’s claimed evaluation of certain leagues.

“[Dover High School] is willing to discuss league options that exclude varsity football, if necessary,” Grate and McCrate stated via the release. “We have a duty to explore every option for each and every one of our student-athletes. Being “Independent” is not in the best interest of our student-athletes, school, or community. We are committed to openly and creatively looking at all options — hopefully in an athletic league that meets the needs of both our students and those within a future league’s schools.”

The school further stated that requests for meetings in the recently sent letters had not yet been scheduled with any of the contacted leagues, though “conversations have begun” and the school will further address the issue following the end of the 2022-23 school year.