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ACAC wins contest to land Jay County

– Jay County made its move to the ACAC official Monday after a three-year wait for a conference invitation.

Jay County had petitioned the ACAC for membership multiple times in the past few years while looking for a conference. In the past two months, the school received an invitation from the North Central Conference, followed quickly by the ACAC.

Jay County Schools Superintendent Tim Long said there was some debate over whether the ACAC or the NCC would be a better fit heading into Monday’s vote. However, the school board made the unanimous decision to go with the ACAC. “The community was kind of split on it,” Long said. “In the end, I think that the board made a good decision, and we are excited about it.”

The ACAC includes Adams Central; Bluffton; Garrett; Heritage; Leo; South Adams; Woodlan; and Southern Wells, a football independent school. Athletic directors of member institutions were pleased Jay County decided to head their way.

The addition is a departure from recent years, when Jay County’s petitions to join the ACAC fell flat.

“There was just a mindset to remain status quo,” Bluffton athletic director Steve Thompson said.

“And I think with the athletic directors that are there in the ACAC now, we took it as, ‘How can we make our conference better? Let’s be open to any ideas.’

“I’m not saying change is always better, but in this case, I think we improved and strengthened our conference.”

Adams Central athletic director Rick Minnich said the addition strengthens the conference and could protect it as dominos start falling in realignment of conferences across the state. The April 18 decision of the Northeast Hoosier Conference to disband in 2015 is sure to cause ripples, he said, and taking a proactive approach could keep the ACAC healthy.

“We don’t want to be a conference of five or six or seven,” Minnich said. “We feel it to be a good addition. We feel it’s a school that’s competitive, and they were very much interested in finding a conference.”