Marian Central athletic director Drew Potthoff stands on his reputation, as well as that of the school, after drawing criticism from the Chicago Catholic League on Wednesday.
Marian Central announced Tuesday it had been accepted into the East Suburban Catholic Conference, beginning in the 2014-15 school year, the same year it was slated to compete in the Chicago Catholic League for football and boys soccer.
Jim Prunty, the athletic director of CCL member Chicago St. Ignatius, was upset when he heard of Marian’s plans.
“We’re very disappointed in the lack of integrity that Marian Central Catholic has shown in this whole process,” Prunty said. “They’ve had [football and soccer] schedules for seven weeks. All along they’ve been in discussions with the East Suburban Catholic. They had made a commitment to play football and soccer for two years [in the CCL].”
Prunty said the rescheduling of games will pose problems for athletic directors. Potthoff said he called Prunty, someone with whom he had a long working relationship, Tuesday night to explain what was happening.
“There’s no conspiracy theory,” said Potthoff, who took over as AD after the commitment had been made to the CCL. “I don’t know what was going on last spring, We’re out here on an island. This thing [with the ESCC] presented itself, as these things do, quickly. It’s not something you put in the papers.”
Potthoff admitted there would never be a good time to move and understands CCL officials being upset.
“Am I disappointed that people want to question my integrity? Yeah, but I’ve got big shoulders,” Potthoff said. “... It was best for our school, it came about quickly.”
Marian currently plays in the Suburban Christian Conference, but seven of those 12 schools are moving to the Metro Suburban Conference next year. The remaining schools – Marian, Aurora Christian, Marmion (boys only), Montini, Rosary (girls only) and St. Francis – committed to play in the CCL for football and boys soccer, then planned on sticking together in other sports.
The opportunity came for Marian to join the ESCC for all sports, and it jumped. Potthoff said he called Prunty, along with ADs from Marmion, Rosary and St. Francis on Tuesday night. Marian principal Charles Rakers called other schools.
Prunty is uncertain what the CCL will do to realign its football divisions for next year. The plan was for the remaining SCC schools to play in one division together.
“They gave their word and their commitment and accepted schedules, while in discussion with another conference,” Prunty said. “They never once called somebody to say, ‘Hey, we had a change of heart before you get these schedules going. Can we have some more time to think about this?’ There are 19 schools in football affected by this.”