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L-E appeal to stay in 4A denied

Teams move to new Region 8-5A

Posted: August 31, 2017 2:14 p.m.
Updated: September 1, 2017 1:00 a.m.

For the second time in six days, Lugoff-Elgin’s appeal to have its athletic teams moved from a proposed Region 4-5A to Region 3-4A was denied. 

This time, the South Carolina High School League’s appellate panel kept the Demons and Lady Demons, if briefly, in Region 5-4A for the 2018-20 athletic seasons by a 4-3 vote on Tuesday morning in Columbia. That came on the heels of last Wednesday’s first appeal by school officials which came before the SCHSL’s executive committee was denied the motion by an 11-0 vote.

Later during Tuesday’s hearings, Spring Valley and Blythewood joined forces and went before the appellate panel in a move to try and have their athletic programs relocated from a proposed Region 3-5A, in a circuit which included Rock Hill-area schools to the more Midlands-centric Region 4-5A which, with the executive committee’s decision to add Sumter, became an eight-team conference.

When SV and Blythewood appeared before the appellate panel and with L-E’s proposal being denied, the two Richland County schools shifted course and asked that Region 4-5A be split into two five-team regions of Midlands-area schools.

The motion was carried by a 7-0 vote and by Tuesday afternoon, L-E teams were placed in a newly formed Region 8-5A along with Spring Valley, Blythewood, Irmo and Sumter. The region will be part of the Lower State for postseason playoff purposes.

While not the outcome L-E athletic director Matt Campbell, school principal Worth Thomasson and Kershaw County School Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan, who all appeared before and appealed to the appellate panel, were hoping for, Campbell said he was just happy that the entire ordeal was over and that he could now concentrate on coaching the Demons’ football team. 

Since the initial realignment proposal was announced on Aug. 3, Campbell had divided his time between his football coaching responsibilities and helping to put together the school’s appeal before two different decision-making entities.

“It’s been a busy week between getting ready for Midland Valley, closing down (last week’s) River Bluff game and getting ready for the appellate panel,” he said on Wednesday morning. “It didn’t turn out the way we wanted but I’m glad it’s all behind us.”

The school could have gone to a third committee, the SCHSL’s classification committee, but Campbell felt it would not change anything.

L-E is the 43rd largest school in South Carolina according to the 135-day Average Daily Membership (ADM) with an enrollment of 1,631 students. The numbers for each school was released by the SCHSL. The school was elevated into the 5A ranks --- the state’s largest classification --- when the SCHSL unveiled its realignment proposal for the 2018-20 academic years. The proposal called for 5A to go from 42 schools, which is the current status, to 48.

In the proposal which was released to the public last month, the Demons and Lady Demons were placed into Region 4-5A along with Chapin, Dutch Fork, Irmo, Lexington, River Bluff and White Knoll. The conference grew to eight schools when Sumter, which was to be headed to Region 5 along with Carolina Forest, Conway, Socastee, South Florence, St. James and West Florence, successfully won its appeal before the executive committee to join Region 4-5A.

Citing travel and other economic and school-related concerns, L-E, a 4A program, was trying to be stay in the 4A ranks and be moved to Region 4-AAA along with Lancaster, Richland Northeast, Ridge View, South Pointe and Westwood.

Campbell said with the distractions posed by appeals process behind him, he can now focus on his duties as L-E’s head football coach and to his players.

“I’ve done my best to keep (the appeals) away from the kids and not let it be a distraction to them,” he said. “The one thing we have to focus on is (tonight’s game with) Midland Valley.”

Going 0-for-2 in front of the two committees did not sit well with Campbell who said the school’s athletic programs will live with the final decision. Personally, however, it was a bit of a different story for the former NFL offensive guard who was proud of the presentation which the school made before both the executive committee and the appellate panel.

“I’m a competitor and I don’t like to lose, no matter what the competition is; to me, it’s a competition,” he said. “I felt like we did a great job and that Dr. Morgan made a great case for us and Worth Thomasson did a great job up there.

“I felt we were very sound with all the information we had but at the end of the day, there’s a process that you have to go through and there is an appellate panel that is going to make that decision. All we can do is present the best case we can and hope for the best.”

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