An Erie County legislator wants Buffalo schools to abandon the tradition of Harvard Cup football in favor of competing in the Section VI Federation, which plays its championships at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Legislator George A. Holt Jr. is pushing a plan for the city schools, which already are dues-paying members of Section VI, to compete against federation teams for the chance to win statewide titles. City football teams -- along with girls tennis, swimming and girls soccer squads -- do not compete in Section VI.
Holt, D-Buffalo, plans to hold a news conference at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at All High Stadium, where he will push a plan to demolish the 85-year-old facility and move future city school football games to Johnnie B. Wiley Stadium at Jefferson Avenue and Dodge Street.
City schools have competed in the Harvard Cup since 1904, with the Thanksgiving Day game the culmination of the season. The current arrangement prevents city teams from playing in the Section VI championships at the home of the Buffalo Bills or moving on to the Syracuse Carrier Dome for one of five state titles.
Dave Thomas, supervisor of physical education for the Buffalo Public Schools, said, "Maybe it's time we moved and started playing some of the suburban teams. We're looking to open up the schedule next year."
"I can't see dropping our city football and immediately go into it," he said. "There's a lot of feeling about this, so we're going about it carefully."
Thomas pointed out that he can only offer a suburban school a varsity game because the city doesn't have junior varsity or freshman programs. "It's going to be hard to do for next year. We'll see who's got some openings," he said. "I'm not saying we're going to do it, but we're willing to do it."
The proposal to let Buffalo schools compete in Section VI football probably would have the support of Section VI officials, said Patrick Slavin, federation president.
Holt said that reverence for the Harvard Cup is limiting the opportunities of student athletes who live in underprivileged areas of the city. He said the current system is supported by city administrators who, he said, are more concerned about their own schedules than about opportunities for city athletes.
He said city administrators and coaches like having the games after school or on Saturday mornings but that the setup limits the exposure of inner-city student athletes.