TCAL, MBL will merge into equity league for 2012-13 season

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The Tri-County Athletic League and the Monterey Bay League will
officially merge beginning in the 2012-13 season. Two years after
school officials and athletic directors of the Southern Conference
voted down an equity league format by a 20-16 margin, which would
have combined the TCAL and MBL into a two-division

super

league, the 34 member schools had a noticeable change of opinion
on Thursday when the equity league proposal was approved by a 33-1
margin.
SALINAS — The Tri-County Athletic League and the Monterey Bay League will officially merge beginning in the 2012-13 season.

Two years after school officials and athletic directors of the Southern Conference voted down an equity league format by a 20-16 margin, which would have combined the TCAL and MBL into a two-division “super” league, the 34 member schools had a noticeable change of opinion on Thursday when the equity league proposal was approved by a 33-1 margin.

The move will combine the 15 schools in the TCAL and MBL into one league, with two divisions separating the schools. The makeup of each division will vary from sport to sport, with those divisions based on the skill and strength of the team itself.

Gilroy High Athletic Director Jack Daley said the difference in the vote from 2009 was the opinion of the MBL schools, which Daley believed were not in favor of the equity league by a 5-2 margin two years ago.

On Thursday, though, the seven member schools of the MBL were said to have voted 6-1 in favor of the equity league. Daley said he was not sure which school voted against the equity league format, however.

“The last time, the MBL was split down the middle,” Daley said. “I think last time (in 2009), people didn’t want to force the MBL into something they didn’t want to do. But I think this time, the MBL was on board.”

The 2009 vote that rejected the equity league format by a 20-16 margin instead approved a proposal that would have moved Gilroy High from the TCAL to the MBL beginning in the 2010-11 season, while also placing recently opened Christopher High into the MBL as well.

That move was appealed by Palma High School, though. Palma Principal David Sullivan said in 2009 the primary reason for the appeal was to further discuss the situation with all the schools involved.

The appeal process eventually led to a second vote later that year, which approved a third option that kept Gilroy in the TCAL and placed Christopher High into the MBL.

Initially, however, Gilroy officials were wanting to play in a league that included its new cross-town rival in Christopher, and as a result voted for the equity league in 2009. But following the appeal, officials from both schools voted to join the MBL, which was a move that was rejected.

Thursday’s vote, though, will combine the two leagues into one, and will allow the two Gilroy high schools to play each other as league opponents.

Daley said the Southern Conference schools Thursday first voted on the equity league format. Had it been rejected, though, a second proposal of moving just Gilroy High to the MBL would have been voted upon.

But that proposal never came to the table.

“Our recommendation to the committee was equity league,” Daley said. For next season, though, the 2011-12 season, Gilroy will remain in the TCAL and Christopher will remain the MBL.

San Benito High Athletic Director Tod Thatcher was in favor of the new equity league.

“I think it’s great. I think it’s gonna benefit all 14 schools and I think it’ll be a positive thing,” he said.

The 14 schools that will be combined into two divisions include the MBLs Christopher, Monte Vista Christian, Monterey, North Monterey County, Pajaro Valley, Seaside and Watsonville high schools, and the TCALs Alisal, Everett Alvarez, Gilroy, North Salinas, Salinas and San Benito high schools, with Notre Dame (all girls) and Palma (all boys) as well.

Although the Southern Conference is comprised of more than 30 schools, including the schools in the Santa Cruz Athletic League and the Mission Trail Athletic League, the member schools that will be directly affected by the new equity league voted in favor, 14-1.

“I think the word was that, if they want to make it happen, we’re not gonna vote it down for them,” Thatcher said. “I think it’s good, but there is a lot of hard work coming. It’s not cut-and-dry where it’s gonna end up.”

There will now be several meetings prior to the 2012-13 season in order to figure out which teams belong in each division. Similar to the three-division Blossom Valley Athletic League in San Jose, the new TCAL/MBL league will likely have a higher division and a lower division in order to keep a competitive balance and provide a more level playing field for all schools involved.

Playoff bids will also need to be discussed, as the equity structure, despite its name, does not need to be equal. Both divisions could receive two automatic qualifying bids toward the postseason, or one division could receive three bids while the other division receives just one.

The divisions are also reevaluated every two years, at which point teams could be reshuffled based on the strengths of individual programs.

“We’ve got kind of a model already,” Daley said, referring to sports like boys’ volleyball, which recently combined the TCAL and MBL into a two-division league of 12 teams.

“There’s still a lot of work to do,” Daley added. “But I think it’ll be good.”

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