Football merger talks back on, Granville, Whitehall to meet Dec. 1

Football merger talks back on, Granville, Whitehall to meet Dec. 1
The Granville and Whitehall football programs could potentially be merging. A meeting on Dec. 1 between the athletic committees of each board of education will look into possible action.

For those who thought a Granville-Whitehall football merger was completely off the table for next fall – not so fast.

It was revealed on Nov. 18 that the athletic committees of both districts’ Boards of Education will meet on Dec. 1 at 6 p.m. in Whitehall to discuss the idea of merging the Golden Horde and Railroaders’ teams into one cohesive unit with one head coach.

Granville declined to merge with Corinth/Hadley-Luzerne at its Nov. 8 board meeting. It was explained then that the opportunity of a merger with Whitehall was not available because Whitehall felt it could grow its program through its active roster of junior varsity players.

Granville’s athletic committee members consisting of superintendent Tom McGurl, athletic director Justin Nassivera and board members Connor Hoagland, Shirley Kunen, Michele O’Brien and Ed Vladyka are all in favor of finding a suitable merger partner.

At a meeting on Nov. 18, the committee members agreed that the coaching staff will be interviewed by Nassivera and Whitehall athletic director Keith Redmond.

“Coaching is obviously a year-to-year appointment. Ideally, we would just be one team, one posting with one head coach, not co-head coaches,” Nassivera said. “Once the head coach is hired, the head coach and the ADs would be responsible for looking for potential assistant coaches or modified coaches to fill those roles.”

In an effort to be “equitable,” Hoagland requested that Granville superintendent Tom McGurl be involved in the hiring process, to which McGurl said he had no problem.

“Both schools would post internally. They would also post externally,” McGurl said. “I would also add that the recommendation would be that if a coach had been dismissed from a program or if a potential candidate had been dismissed from either school in the last 10 years or requested to resign, that they be excluded from that process.”

Additionally, student-athletes from each school would participate in the homecoming activities and traditions of both schools, like the parade in Whitehall and the bonfire in Granville.

Ultimately, both districts’ boards would have to approve the merger before the merger deadline for football on Feb. 1.

There are negative implications if either school were to back out of an approved merger after the Feb. 1 deadline, such as Whitehall did earlier this year.

Hypothetically, if Granville and Whitehall were to agree to merge football programs and withdraw from the merger after the deadline, both schools would be fined and receive a three-year ban on merging in that sport.

Vladyka said he doesn’t believe either program, both of which are at a “teetering point” with roster numbers, would be able to survive a three-year ban on being able to merge in football.

Other sports that could potentially be discussed for merger by Granville and Whitehall at the Dec. 1 meeting are boys soccer, which is currently in effect, and competitive cheerleading. Granville currently has a cheer “club” where feet stay on the ground consisting of 10-12 members, while Whitehall’s cheerleading team consists of 20-25 members.

However, Granville’s athletic committee agreed that at this time, “the focus is on football.”

Going forward, other sports that may be considered in merging between the two schools are wrestling, golf, field hockey and volleyball.

“The sports where there’s no numbers threat, where we’re not struggling, those aren’t even a subject of conversation, and Mr. Redmond and I have had that conversation,” Nassivera said.