12/12/11 — 3-A realignment

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3-A realignment

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on December 12, 2011 1:48 PM

Jabo Fulghum shrugged off the rumor.

David Lee didn't think it was possible.

Charles Davis said anything could happen.

Well, it has.

Ten days after releasing a computer-generated realignment draft, the N.C. High School Athletic Association unveiled its proposal late Friday afternoon. The Association has placed Eastern Wayne, Southern Wayne and Charles B. Aycock into a split-classification conference with West Craven, South Central, D.H. Conley and traditional 4-A powers J.H. Rose and New Bern.

The consensus?

No thanks.

"My first thought was what a brutal baseball conference," said Lee, who spoke by phone Sunday evening while vacationing in Disney World with his family. "It definitely was a surprise. I did not see that coming. I asked Coach (Jeremy) Joyner to come up with a counter proposal geographically that would include everybody and he said he thought we were just stuck.

"It keeps the county schools together, which is good. I don't think it fits any of our county schools the way the two previous conferences have. We had formed close-knit conferences, but I think this new conference will make it difficult to do."

The second proposal also merges current Eastern Carolina 3-A members Triton, South Johnston and Cleveland into a six-school league along with Smithfield-Selma, Western Harnett and Corinth-Holders. Davis, Fulghum and Lee want to see the ECC stay intact and Corinth-Holders brought into the conference.

The initial model, done by SAS in Cary, worked under the variables of placing schools geographically and eliminating split-classification conferences.

"Before the whole thing started, I was told by someone in Pitt County it was a rumor that it could possibly happen," said Fulghum. "It was thought up before the whole thing was actually initiated. At the corners of the state, you don't have that many schools and you're going to have split conferences.

"I really didn't think we'd be put into a split conference. If you look at the proximity of the schools, it's not too awful bad for us. Economically, it is better to stay in the conference we're already in."

Fulghum and Gene Byrd, principal at Eastern Wayne, plan to compose a letter to the Association expressing their desire to remain aligned in the current conference. Lee wants to do the same thing, but hopes the county's administration -- including Superintendent Dr. Steven Taylor -- will jump on board to help stall the Association from moving forward on the new proposal.

The letter must be submitted before the Jan. 24, 2012 meeting scheduled for all eastern North Carolina schools at East Carolina University. The Association's realignment committee will review all alternative proposals and compose a new draft, which will be distributed to its member institutions.

The conferences must be finalized by March 15.

However, the realignment committee will permit schools to file appeals and will make its final ruling by May.

"As a whole, we want the consistency of a 3-A league, but we're going to play where they put us and do the best we can," said Fulghum. "We're going to respect their direction. I know they can't please everybody."