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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Sidelines: No expansion for Four Rivers Conference

  • Rumors that Rolla, Washington and Cuba may join the league is just that...rumors.
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  • Several Four Rivers Conference schools, albeit unofficially, have discussed the possibility of adding a few more area schools – including Rolla – and going to large-school and small-school divisions.
    But, as one athletic director has said, it isn't going to happen.
    For months rumors have been rampant that Washington High School, once a Four Rivers Conference member, wanted back in the league. That much is true.
    The re-admission of Washington would have started the ball rolling towards a possible large-school, small-school Four Rivers Conference format, at least for football.
    However, the Four Rivers has told the Washington Blue Jays thanks, but no thanks.
    Washington did not make an official petition to the conference. However, according to Washington Athletic Director Bill Deckelman the school wrote the conference a letter, requesting re-admittance.
    "We dabbled in that," Deckelman said. "It's not going to happen. Our principal wrote a letter making the request, and it was denied.
    "You can't do anything if they don't want you back in."
    Washington was a longtime member of the Four Rivers Conference until moving to the St. Louis-based Gateway Athletic Conference in the 2002-03 school year. Washington was the largest school in the league at the time it left the Four Rivers.
    It's known that some of the larger league schools – possibly Sullivan, St. Clair, Union and Pacific – were wanting to add Washington and Rolla. However, apparently enough of the smaller schools were against it to have the Washington idea nixed.
    One administrator told me he thinks some of the larger Four Rivers schools feel strong enough about wanting Washington and Rolla in they would consider voting some of the smaller schools who are against it out of the league in order to get it done.
    If Washington had returned to the Four Rivers there have been some unofficial discussions about Rolla High School's possible interest in following. And there probably was interest; Rolla petitioned the Four Rivers Conference before joining the Ozark Conference in 2001, but were also denied.
    The savings in travel costs, plus the natural rivalries, would seem to make the Four Rivers a much better fit for Rolla than the Ozark Conference.
    Rolla Athletic Director Cathy Shoup said there has been no official discussion between RHS and the Four Rivers. "We've never engaged in conversation with that," Shoup said.
    In the case that Washington and Rolla were added, at least one other small school, probably Cuba, would have been pursued. Cuba is a member of the Gasconade Valley Conference but is the only school in that league that plays football. So Cuba is a football independent.
    Cuba makes no secret it wants to join a football conference. The Four Rivers would seem ideal.
    Page 2 of 2 - "We've had no official word from the Four Rivers," said Cuba Athletic Director Steve Schuette. "I've received a couple of calls, but I don't think they were official calls. I've talked to other Four Rivers athletic directors and there is nothing (in the works) now.
    "Our administrators have talked a little bit about it. We would like to be in a football conference; scheduling in football without being in a conference is difficult right now. We're happy as a member of the GVC; the only thing is we're the only football school."
    Such an expansion would force the Four Rivers into large-school, small-school divisions – at least for football. Before Washington left the league, the size of schools in the Four Rivers ran from Class 5 all the way to Class 1 and that would still be the case.
    In such a scenario, a large-school division could have consisted of Rolla, Washington, Pacific, Union and St. Clair while a small-school division could include St. James, Sullivan, Hermann, Owensville, New Haven (no football) and Cuba.
    But it's not going to happen anytime soon.
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