The Lee-Lenox athletic co-op has come to an end in football.
Lee athletic director Art Reilly said in order to remain competitive in football, the school must end its co-op with Lenox. Ending the co-op allows Lee to move from Division IV to IV-A for the upcoming season.
Reilly said his school appreciates its relationship with Lenox, but it's in its best interest to end the co-op.
"Rather than appeal it, we're going to go at it alone," he said. "We'll wait to hear anything official. "We're the smallest public school in the state that offers football. For us to compete with 116 boys, in a division where in every sport we're in the smallest — we're where we belong. In the co-op with Lenox, we pick up one to five boys each year. We sat down with the Lenox Athletic Director [Joan Schultz] and the assistant principle and we agreed that the best option for Lee would be to go at it alone."
Current Lenox players will be grandfathered into the Lee team, but future Lenox students looking to play football will have nowhere to play as of now. Reilly said the school had the chance to appeal its original placement in Division IV, but, rather than risk losing the appeal, he said school officials on both sides agreed to end the co-op.
"We're such a small school. In D-IV it ranges from 116-600 boys. In Western Mass., schools have up to 300 boys. We have 17 boys from Lee returning. [Coach] Keith [Thomson] does an awesome job recruiting from the youth program. For us to compete we've got to have a chance."
Lee finished 6-5 in 2015, winning the Western Mass. Division VI championship.
Joining the Wildcats out of Berkshire County in the newly formed Division IV-A are Mount Greylock, McCann Tech and Drury. The Blue Devils recently ended their football co-op with St. Joseph to move from Division IV to IV-A.
Two Berkshire County teams are in Division IV (Wahconah, Hoosac Valley) for the 2016 season while Pittsfield, Taconic and Monument Mountain are in Division III for the upcoming campaign.