NEC/GBL Merger Coming Up for a Vote

By Joyce Erekson

A proposal to merge what remains of the Greater Boston League with the Northeastern Conference will come up for a vote at meeting of the NEC principals on April 27 at Beverly High School.

Classical High Principal Gene Constantino is a fan of the merger, which would bring Everett, Malden, Medford and Somerville into the conference. A proposal to merge the two leagues has been rejected in the past, but Constantino is hoping  some of the concerns expressed at that time have been addressed in the new proposal.

One of those concerns was that some NEC teams could find themselves in a league with four GBL teams, but the current proposal would stipulate that the four teams would be split with two going in one division and two in the other. Another concern involved the Everett High football team, a perennial powerhouse. Under the new proposal, Everett football would continue to play an independent schedule. Concerns about how much voting power the GBL schools would have in the NEC have also been taken into consideration.

Constantino pointed out that many of the teams in the NEC already schedule Greater Boston League teams for their non-league games. He said teams would continue to play the other teams in their own division twice and then cross-over to play teams from the other division.

Constantino said the main objective is to increase the opportunity for competitiveness. He stressed that it’s not just an urban school issue, pointing out that different schools  have different struggles when it comes to fielding competitive teams in certain sports due to low participation numbers. He said as an example,  Saugus might have trouble fielding a competitive cross country team while another school might struggle with swimming numbers.

Constantino said the conference would benefit from the merger in several other ways. He said the GBL schools would pay fees to the conference and they have great facilities which would add to the NEC’s options when it comes to running events. He said the NEC currently spends quite a bit to use the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury for indoor track.

“Everett has a first class track facility,” he said.

In order for the proposal to pass, nine out of the 12 NEC teams would need to vote in favor. English High Principal Thomas Strangie could not be reached for comment on the proposal, but in the past English has been opposed to such a merger.

“We have to get nine votes,” Constantino said. “I’m hoping we can get that support … I think the pros definitely outweigh the cons.”

The conference already has two former GBL teams, Peabody and Revere.

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