No hard deadline set for GRHS to decide whether to join Big North

Superintendent says she hasn't yet received formal, written proposal to join new league

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Glen Rock High School has been contacted by the Big North athletic conference about possibly joining the league but so far, no formal invitation has been extended, schools superintendent Paula Valenti told Banana Tree News. As Valenti understands it, the school has a “floating deadline’’ to decide whether to jump leagues.

In a telephone interview Monday, Valenti told BTN that she had met that day with most of the high school’s head coaches, though not all. She declined to say what the consensus was among those coaches on the question of whether Glen Rock should move from the small-school North Jersey Interscholastic Conference (NJIC) to the Big North, which features mostly bigger schools. Valenti had told the Board of Education at its Feb. 27 meeting that the high school was considering a move to the Big North, and that she would meet with the school’s coaches to get their feelings on whether they endorsed such a move.

Valenti said the Big North contacted Glen Rock through athletic director Frank Violante to gauge whether Glen Rock would be interested in joining the league, but no written proposal has yet reached her office. BTN reached out to Violante to ask him detailed questions about the contact between him and the Big North. But he replied in an email that all questions about the Big North would be answered by Valenti’s office.

Valenti said she has been led to believe that there are schools currently in the Big North that are thinking of leaving the league, and she believes the league may be seeking to add Glen Rock as a replacement for one of those schools. She said she did not know if a move to the new conference would be for the 2017-18 season, though that seems unlikely, as schedules for next year are currently being made. She insisted she would not be pressured into making a rushed decision and added that, based on the fact she has not seen a written proposal to switch leagues, she does not believe there is a hard-and-fast deadline for Glen Rock to let the Big North know whether it wishes to switch leagues.

“It’s a floating deadline right now, as far as I understand,’’ Valenti said. “Maybe the end of the month.’’

Glen Rock’s athletic teams currently compete in the NJIC, a 38-team conference made up of schools like Hawthorne, Elmwood Park, Garfield, Saddle Brook, Rutherford and Pompton Lakes. The Big North currently has 41 teams, including the likes of Ridgewood, Fair Lawn, Paramus, Hackensack, Ramapo and Indian Hills, Wayne Hills and Wayne Valley, Clifton and both Paterson high schools, Eastside and Kennedy. The league also has most of the larger Catholic schools in the area, like Bergen Catholic, Don Bosco Prep, St. Joseph’s, DePaul, Paramus Catholic, Immaculate Heart Academy and Academy of Holy Angels.

For Glen Rock, a Group 2 school with an enrollment of fewer than 800 in grades 9-12, a move to the Big North would represent a step up in level of competition.

“I would assume – but I don’t have anything in writing – that there would be consideration to our size and such,” Valenti said when asked what schools Glen Rock might play against if it went to the Big North. “If we were to go to that conference, I think we would be one of the smallest schools — if not the smallest school — in terms of size.’’

Glen Rock’s hockey team, which on Monday won its first state championship, competes in the Big North because the NJIC does not offer hockey. This season, Glen Rock won the Big North Gold Cup title, defeating Northern Highlands, 5-2 in the final of the league tournament. Valenti was asked if the Big North might expel Glen Rock’s hockey team if the school does not join the league for all other sports.

“There’s been no discussion that I’m aware of,’’ she said. “We have not been notified that the hockey team will not be able to participate in that league, no. There’s no truth to that, as far as I know.’’

She added that if the hockey team could not play in the Big North, there are other options for the team to find appropriate competition.

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