Official of area conference confirms that prospective member has not yet committed to joining league after late January invitation issued

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

Somewhat contrary to what was related to and reported in the Constitution-Tribune about a month ago, the addition of distant Higbee to the Carroll-Livingston Activity Association (CLAA) roster of member schools in 2021-22 is not yet a certainty.

With this reporter in attendance at the conference’s semi-annual “winter” meeting at Bosworth School Jan. 29, those superintendents of the 10 current member schools who were able to attend (in the wake of a winter storm a couple of days earlier) conferred on several league-membership-related matters.

At the conclusion of their discussions and votes, the superintendent serving as meeting secretary advised this reporter that the CLAA officials had voted to accept Braymer’s request to join the conference next school year and that they also had voted to bring Higbee, located about 10 miles south of Moberly, in the following year. Although it was not specifically mentioned at that time, the C-T subsequently learned that another membership request – also to take place in 2020-21 – from the Madison School District, east of Moberly about 15 miles, had been voted down.

However, the C-T discovered last week from other media reports in the interim that Higbee has not decisively committed yet to joining the CLAA.

Upon noting those public reports, the C-T contacted both the current CLAA president and the meeting secretary who related the superintendents’ actions to this reporter at the meeting site, seeking clarification. The secretary confirmed by e-mail message that the action CLAA officials had taken indeed had been only to officially invite Higbee to join in 2020-21, not to accept an official request by Higbee to join.

In contrast, Braymer already had notified its current league, the Grand River Conference, that it would exit after 2019-20 after receiving an assurance from CLAA officials that it would be accepted into their ranks.

As a result, only the addition of Braymer as an 11th member school of the Carroll-Livingston Activity Association is for certain, at present.

Higbee, a member of the CCAA (originally standing for the Cooper County Athletics Association, but, with changing membership over the past 10-20 years that left only one Cooper County school in it, switched officially to the four initials) conference in recent years, is exploring options for its future.

Those news reports related that the four current CCAA members still are exploring trying to attract another school or two to join them in that loop.

The reports indicate Higbee officials and that district’s board of education “hope” to make a decision on the CLAA’s invitation by the end of this school year. If that choice ultimately is not to join, it is not clear if the CLAA will reconsider Madison’s interest.

From the Higbee perspective, while joining the CLAA would be a rather drastic geographic step, it apparently might view that as preferable to being unaffiliated with a league, should its current conference disintegrate, as seems increasingly possible.

Higbee already competes against several of the eastern/southeastern CLAA schools either in scheduled head-to-head sports action or during tournaments. However, while only about an hour away from those members, its location would make for at least a 2-hours trip – including during winter weather – if/when it and Braymer would compete against each other and virtually that long for Breckenridge.