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Mead and Mt. Spokane would still play each other under the new alignment, but their game would not count in league standings. (Colin Mulvany)

GSL principals vote to split football league

New alignment will allow for non-league games

Greater Spokane League principals voted unanimously Thursday to scrap their traditional football schedule and crown 4A and 3A champions.

Beginning in the fall, the six 4A schools will play seven games against league teams while the four 3A schools will play six. That leaves 4A schools with two open dates and 3A schools with three. The schools can fill those dates with nonleague games or other crossover matchups against league teams.

The principals rejected the athletic directors’ proposal to continue with the traditional schedule.

“I’m very proud and very thankful we have those 10 principals who are ready to lead their communities as it applies to maintaining competitive equity for all student athletes,” GSL secretary Herb Rotchford said. “It’s a watershed moment in many ways.”

Rotchford floated the idea for changing the status quo last fall.

As it became apparent that University would move up to 4A next year, shifting the 5-5 split in the league, it was difficult to build a schedule where all the schools would play each other yet allow for a nonleague game, said Mead athletic director John Barrington, the league’s football coordinator.

Barrington wasn’t surprised by the principals’ decision.

“They were looking for some solutions to some equity issues in our league,” Barrington said. “This could breathe new life into the league.”

The 4A schools will play five of their league games against each other to determine a champion and the 3A schools will play three of their league games against each other to determine a champion. No crossover games will count toward deciding the champs.

Barrington said one of the openings for Mead and Mt. Spokane will be filled with them playing their traditional rivalry game.

Rotchford said something had to be done to address the equity issue because there’s a distinct discrepancy between the schools’ numbers.

“The data is very, very clear,” Rotchford said. “In the last 40 years, North Central has had only three winning seasons and Rogers has had none. Football is most impactful and most visible and really does in many ways affect the climate and culture of the schools each year. It establishes a tone.”

Rotchford said it wasn’t merely a haves and haves-not decision.

“All schools have an opportunity to play more to their competitive level, which increases the quality of their experience and gets them ready for postseason,” Rotchford said.

The decision comes at a time when schools historically are finishing football schedules for the upcoming year.

“The concern right now is getting nonleague games and making sure the open dates match up,” Barrington said. “The timing isn’t great. But it will probably shake out in the end.”

Ferris and Central Valley didn’t waste any time filling one of their openings, each with games against Coeur d’Alene. CV will open at CdA on Sept. 5 and CdA will play Ferris Sept. 12 at Joe Albi Stadium. The following year Ferris will travel to CdA and the Vikings will go to CV.

The news reached East Valley athletic director Joe Kostecka quickly. Kostecka plans to talk to his coaches today about possibly petitioning to join 3A. If his coaches are on board, EV would apply for membership into the GSL.