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NEC votes to remove GBL teams from conference

In a vote held Friday morning at Beverly High School, the Northeastern Conference chose to oust the four Greater Boston League schools from the league. The decision, which bounces Everett, Malden, Medford and Somerville from the NEC, is slated to begin in the fall of 2021. The GBL schools needed eight votes in their favor to remain part of the conference. The final tally was 7-5 in favor of keeping them in — one vote short. The seven schools that voted in favor of the GBL schools were Classical, Gloucester, Peabody, Revere, Salem, Saugus and Swampscott.

“I’m extremely disappointed,” Swampscott Athletic Director Kelly Farley said. “I thought it was a good thing for our league. Some people will say ‘I want the traditional NEC, the old NEC.’ The NEC isn’t the same league it was 10 years ago. It’s changed. In different schools, the demographics aren’t even the same as they were 10 years ago.”

The original GBL included Arlington, Cambridge, Everett, Malden, Medford, Revere, Somerville, Peabody and Waltham. The NEC-GBL merger, agreed upon as a two-year pilot program in 2016 after a 9-3 vote, started in the spring of 2017.
Farley feels the GBL schools met the expectations given to them under that agreement.

“I think one of the big things is when we brought them in for the trial we put some very specific things we wanted to see as far as hosting league events,” Farley said. “I felt that every single one of those schools met those expectations we asked for. Secondly, from a competitive standpoint, they help us out. Because of the demographics over the past 10 years, their boys teams are a little more competitive than the girls teams and it balances us out.

“I feel bad for those schools because I felt they met the requirements they asked for them,” she added. “They met our expectations.”
The five schools who voted against the GBL schools staying put were, Beverly, Danvers English, Marblehead and Winthrop.

English Athletic Director Dick Newton said he and principal Thomas Strangie discussed multiple factors before making their vote.

“We discuss all facets of athletics, the positives and negatives,” Newton said. “We try to come to a decision that’s in the best interest for not just English athletics but for the league.
“We all have our opinions about what’s good and what’s in the best interest,” he added. “You have to decide on what’s in the best interest of your schools and the league.

“That’s what it’s all about,” he said. “Principal Strangie thought long and hard. He and I sat down and we had lengthy discussions about it and we made a decision that way.”

The conference was said to be split into two divisions: Classical, English, Everett, Malden, Medford, Revere, Salem and Somerville in one division and Beverly, Danvers, Gloucester, Marblehead, Peabody, Saugus, Swampscott and Winthrop in the other.

That played a key factor in English’s vote, said Newton.

“We looked at a lot of things,” Newton said. “We looked at the integrity of the league. The way the league was set up we’d only play the traditional NEC teams every four years. We didn’t want it that way. We wanted to play traditional NEC teams not traditional GBL teams. We’re not the GBL, we’re the NEC. We want to play NEC teams. That was a key factor in our school voting no. We like playing 100-year-old, traditional rivalry games.”

Newton and Farley both confirmed the four GBL schools are seeking a quicker exit from the NEC. That could lead to complications with the fall season’s schedule.

“They’re going to petition the MIAA to end the relationship in June,” Newton said. “That would put everything in the air because we’d have to re-do all the schedules.”

“Our whole fall season’s already completely schedule,” Farley said. “Football, yes, that’ll be difficult but the who fall season’s scheduled. That will be difficult.”

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