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Source WVIAC to remain intact

by Anthony Hanshew

SPORTS EDITOR

Throughout the past year, it seemed quite possible that a rift was imminent within the West Virginia Conference.

Five private institutions within the league reportedly were considering leaving the league to form a new NCAA Division II conference with schools from Ohio and Pennsylvania. The primary question was whether West Virginia Wesleyan, Alderson-Broaddus, Davis & Elkins, Wheeling Jesuit and the University of Charleston would sever ties with the WVC or opt for the status quo.

The point appears moot.

A source within the West Virginia Conference confirmed Wednesday that plans for the new league have ceased. Several out-of-state schools pulled out, leaving the remaining institutions with no options.

Alderson-Broaddus president Dr. Stephen Markwood, who has been involved with the negotiations throughout, would not comment Wednesday. Markwood said the league would release a statement Friday concerning the issue.

West Virginia Conference commissioner Barry Blizzard said he had not heard about Wednesday's development.

"You're giving me the news," Blizzard said from his home Wednesday night. "If (the league is staying together), and I can't confirm that, then that's great news."

Associate commissioner Will Prewitt agreed.

"We're thrilled with an outcome that keeps the league together in its present form," Prewitt said. "We feel we have one of the top Division II conferences in the country, and we have a special tradition in West Virginia."

Blizzard and Prewitt also agreed that a pending NCAA moratorium could have halted talks of a new league. Due to the glut of schools entering the Division II ranks, the NCAA is expected to soon announce that it will not accept any new members for at least the next two years.

Pennsylvania schools Point Park, Seton Hill and St. Vincent and Ohio schools Walsh, Geneva and Malone are currently NAIA and would not be granted Division-II certification if the moratorium is passed.

In order to form a new league that receives automatic regional berths in basketball and a vote at the NCAA convention, the NCAA requires that the conference have at least eight active Division II schools that each have eight varsity sports.

"That is going to happen," Blizzard said of the moratorium. "Division II just exploded, and they're trying to control the expansion."

Prewitt said he hoped there were other motivators as well.

"I'd like to think that they looked at where they were at and liked it," he said.

A Saturday meeting had been scheduled among the interested schools to discuss whether a start-up to the new league would be viable for the 2001-2002 school year.

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