YEAR IN REVIEW: Co-op dissolution not allowed, New England back to play with Trinity one more year

ORIGINAL RUN: March 25

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Mott-Regent/ New England emergency football co-op was denied, forcing the Tigers to play one more year with Trinity. 

By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor
cbenz@countrymedia.net

New England Superintendent Kelly Koppinger said he would have liked a different decision than the one rendered by North Dakota High School Activities Association (NDHSAA) Board of Directors regarding the dissolution of the football co-op with Dickinson Trinity.

Initially the NDHSAA Executive Committee—comprised of members from the North Dakota High School Activities Association membership board—issued a decision recommending the board not allow the dissolution on March 5. Koppinger, along with New England Activities Director Daryl Jung, then went to the Board of Directors meeting on March 18 to plead their case, in hopes of a successful appeal. The board voted unanimously against the dissolution, essentially forcing New England back into the co-op for one more year.

“I really thought their minds were made up prior to getting there,” Koppinger said.

It’s a strange situation for both schools.

According to Koppinger, the Dickinson Trinity administration had started the dissolution conversation on Jan. 20 during a meeting with the two schools. Both schools agreed to the dissolution and submitted the proper paperwork to the activities association, with New England eventually finding a home for their football players in Mott-Regent.

Now, Trinity and New England will be on the gridiron together one more year.

Koppinger said the board cited timing and alignment issues with their decision, but he thought the board was not making their decisions based on the more pressing issue.

“They thought that by us [New England] and Trinity not meeting the timelines for the dissolution, that was a more pressing issue to take and render their decision than it was whether or not our kids played in an environment that truly wanted our kids there,” Koppinger said.

Steve Glasser, President of Dickinson Catholic Schools, said he wasn’t present at the March 18 meeting, but that he had had prior conversations with the board, and said they would have supported whatever decision was made.

“We looked at it as we wanted to just make sure that the student athletes in New England had an opportunity to play football,” Glasser said. “Whether it be at Trinity or if the board would have approved the dissolution and the emergency co-op with Mott-Regent, that those young men had an opportunity to play.”

Glasser said early indications he received was that the board would not approve the dissolution. He said discussions then shifted to what the best interest of the students would be.

“Hopefully we can work together to make it as positive as possible for the student-athletes next fall,” Glasser said.

Koppinger didn’t think getting the emergency co-op approved was going to be as difficult of a task as it ended up being. In hindsight he said it was improbable from the start, and the board’s interest was more focused on their priorities than that of the student-athlete’s best interest.

“To me, they were more interested in keeping their proposed football plan intact without making any changes to it whatsoever, than they were concerned about the environment that our kids would be playing in,” Koppinger said.

Koppinger said a conversation with the school community and the students would take place in the near future about the decision that was rendered. He said conversations will also need to take place with Dickinson Trinity prior the beginning of the 2016 season, in order to work out any differences both entities may have.

The board’s decision will also prevent New England from joining Mott-Regent in the upcoming football season, another facet to the situation Koppinger was disappointed with.

“I think [New England] found a pretty good relationship with Mott that we were pretty excited about,” Koppinger said.

It will have to wait one year, but Koppinger said the co-op with Mott-Regent will move forward following the 2016 season. The board has already approved the co-op for 2017 and even lists Mott-Regent and New England together on their 2017/2018 enrollment numbers posted to the NDHSAA website.

“[Co-op with Mott-Regent] has been approved,” Koppinger said. “And we will be moving forward with that.”

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