Butler football skips independent route, joins District 10 as associate member

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Thursday, January 16, 2020 | 11:12 PM


District 10 accepted Butler’s football team as an associate member Wednesday after the WPIAL endorsed the move.

The WPIAL board had previously rejected the football team’s request to leave District 7 and join District 10, but later sent a letter in support of this limited arrangement. As an associate member, Butler remains a WPIAL school but will receive a District 10 football schedule and can compete in that district’s playoffs.

“The WPIAL was gracious enough to send a letter on our behalf,” Butler athletic director Bill Mylan said. “I think there was a little misinterpretation on what exactly we wanted to do from the start. We’re still able to maintain our membership in District 7 and at the same time have associate membership in football only with District 10.”

All other Butler sports will continue to compete in the WPIAL.

The WPIAL earlier said that letting a member school leave the district in one sport would set a bad precedent. The letter sent Wednesday to District 10 said that “the WPIAL is not opposed (to associate membership), provided that all involved are aware that Butler is not relinquishing its membership in the WPIAL,” said WPIAL executive director Tim O’Malley.

Butler’s football team endured a second consecutive 0-10 season last fall and school administrators were worried that years of losing might force its program to someday fold. The Golden Tornado hasn’t had a winning season since 1997 despite the third-largest enrollment in the WPIAL behind North Allegheny and Seneca Valley.

Butler’s record is 15-78 in the past decade and 40-149 since 2000. The team hopes to find a more competitive schedule in District 10.

Without associate membership, Butler would’ve played an independent schedule and wouldn’t have been eligible for the playoffs in any district. A chance to reach the postseason might seem unimportant for a team with a 20-game losing streak, but Mylan disagreed.

“We don’t feel like we’re going to go right to District 10 and make the playoffs,” Mylan said, “but if our program does improve this year, next year or whatever the case may be, it’s nice to have that possibility. Our goal is to improve our program, but you sort of want that carrot to dangle in front of the kids.”

Butler superintendent Brian White played a role in clearing up any misunderstandings with the WPIAL, Mylan said. White and WPIAL president Scott Seltzer previously worked together as administrators at Chartiers Valley.

The WPIAL isn’t unfamiliar to associate memberships. City League teams have used that route to compete in some WPIAL sports.

Butler will play five District 10 teams and fill the remaining weeks with opponents from other districts, including a Week Zero matchup with Kiski Area. District 10 mostly has schools from Crawford, Erie, Forest, Mercer, Venango and Warren counties.

Mylan said he’s received positive feedback from the community.

“You’ve got some naysayers, but a large percentage of the people I’ve talked to are excited about the opportunity,” Mylan said. “And for the most part, the kids have been excited about it too, which is most important for me.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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