Plans for the Northeastern and Merrimack Valley conferences to withdraw from the MIAA statewide playoff tournament for football were put on hold Friday, according to Dracut athletic director Tim Woods.
The proposal, which was spurred by Woods and the MVC, was designed to have the MVC Large compete against the NEC Large and the MVC Small face the NEC Small in one-game playoffs.
Instead, both leagues will participate in the MIAA statewide system next season, but plans to leave the tournament are still being considered for 2014.
“The Merrimack Valley Conference athletic directors decided it’s not feasible to put it together in time for this year,” said Woods, also the chairman of the MIAA District A committee. “But we will be interested in doing it next year if we can get some other leagues to join.”
On Oct. 26, principals and athletic directors across the state met in Marlborough, and the result was a 161-131 vote in favor of a two-year pilot program, which increased the amount of playoff participants and reduced the number of state champions from 19 to six.
“We don’t blame the MIAA, other than [allowing] non-football schools to vote,” Woods said. “But we think [the vote] was pushed by certain schools that had an agenda, and we don’t think it’s in the best interest for the majority of schools in Eastern Mass. We understand the attraction for Central Mass. and Western Mass. schools that don’t have league affiliations like we do.”
According to Woods, the majority of the more than 60 schools, spread across five conferences in District A (MVC, NEC, Dual County League, Commonwealth Conference, and Cape Ann League) were against the proposal. Woods said about 40 percent of the MVC schools were willing to test the MIAA program.
Woods also expressed discontent because the voting Oct. 26 was anonymous.
“Why is it an anonymous vote?” Woods said. “We had asked, ‘Why can’t they be taken electronically?’ but we were cast off on that. We would like to do a sampling, and we’ll do this in the next few weeks to see who voted how.”
The MVC proposed the idea to the NEC and Beverly principal Sean Gallagher.
“We sent a message to the NEC and would like to discuss this more, and discuss common scheduling agreements in all sports — not just football,” Woods said. “We’ll continue to explore this and try to attract other leagues, maybe two more. We’ll be communicating with MIAA on how we get this done.
“We’re going to keep it on the back burner.”
Beverly athletic director James Coffey told the Globe the NEC isn’t against the MIAA program, but is trying to preserve traditional rivalries that are important to the towns.
“After the proposal was passed we started having league meetings to discuss how this system was going to work,” Coffey said. “The more we met, the more we realized that with this new system there were going to be some rivalries over 100 years old that were going to end.”
The NEC mainly voted against the proposal in October, but it is on board to play under the new system for the upcoming season.