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Lewis could return to Big 10

by Greg Talkington

SPORTS WRITER

The Big 10 Conference may soon be taking in a new member.

Lewis County High School has sent a formal letter to Big 10 President and Lincoln High School Principal Jerry Toth requesting membership in the league.

Lewis County Athletic Director Richard Hiserman believes the move is a necessary one for the school.

"It's really hard for us to compete with schools the size of Morgantown and North Marion," Hiserman said. "The Big 10 is basically composed of small AAAslike us and bigger AA schools.

"We only have 632 students in our top three grades."

If approved, Lewis County would become the league's fourth Class AAA school. Robert C. Byrd, Philip Barbour and Grafton, which is currently Class AA. Grafton, however, is still trying to remain in the Class AA ranks.

The remainder of the league -- Bridgeport, Liberty, Lincoln and South Harrison -- are Class AA schools.

"We had a meeting with Mr. Toth and Mr. (Doug) Hogue at RCB a few weeks ago," Hiserman said. "This is something we've been considering for at least five years or so."

Elkins, which had been strongly rumored to also be joining the Big 10, will remain in the North Central Atheletic Conference.

Elkins athletic director Ted Williams admitted to inquiring about a possible move, but that is all.

"We're in the NCAC and we're staying," Williams said. "We were contacted (by the Big 10) and went to what was more or less an exploratory meeting, but that was it.

"We brought the information back to our coaches and they almost unanimously voted to stay in the NCAC, and that's been our stance since day one of all of this."

Williams said he believes there would be no financial advantage to switching conference allegiances and says because of the number of AA schools presently in the Big 10 it would be of no advantage to leave the NCAC.

Hiserman also said that it would take two years for the school to become a full-fledged member due to contractual agreements with the other schools in the NCAC.

"As of right now, we're still a member of the NCAC," Hiserman said. "This is a move we're making because we want to give our athletes a chance to be competitive.

"It has nothing to do with our relationships with the other schools in the league. We don't have a problem with any school in the NCAC."

Hiserman believes the proposed move is one endorsed by the Lewis County community.

"Most people here get the Clarksburg newspapers, not the ones from Fairmont or Morgantown," Hiserman said. "Just from a standpoint of exposure alone, it should benefit our athletes.

"Also, the Big 10 schools are closer and we're hoping that will help some financially with some bigger crowds from those schools."

Hiserman is hopeful the school will be voted in.

"There's a meeting set for the end of the month," Hiserman said. "It's my understanding that six of the seven schools must vote in favor or the move is off.

"I don't know of any problems or drawbacks any of the other schools would have with it. I think Lewis County and the Big 10 are a good fit."

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