The Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) denied a request from McDonald County and Nevada High Schools to be added to the Big 8 Conference on Monday.
Both schools have tried unsuccessfully to gain access to the Big 8 since 2007 when they were members of the now defunct Southwest Conference, which also included Webb City, Carthage and Neosho.
Both McDonald County and Nevada are currently listed as independent and have no conference affiliation.
MSHSAA formed an Ad Hoc committee to hear presentations from all parties involved.
"MSHSAA's by-laws allow its board of directors to insert schools into a conference only after all means of admission have been exhausted," said Jason West, MSHSAA communication director. "The board felt that all measures had not been exhausted. That the Big 8, Nevada and McDonald County could resolve their differences through more mediation and dialogue."
A letter obtained from MSHSAA that was sent to all parties involved stated:
"The committee declines to recommend that the Big 8 Conference accept Nevada High School and McDonald County High School into the conference membership, due to the committee's belief in the importance of free association and the potential problems that can be caused by forcing conferences to accept unwanted members.
"The committee believes that, should the Big 8 decline further negotiations, McDonald County High School should pursue conference membership with the Central Ozark Conference and/or the Ozark Conference."
A copy of the letter can be found on The Monett Times web site at www.monett-times.com.
"Conference affiliation is more than just about athletics," said Big 8 Secretary Dave Steward. "I was not at the presentation, but the Big 8 has several concerns about expansion."
Those concerns range from the logistics and travel to accommodate the inclusion of new schools to the loss of honors and recognition of current members and the enrollment size of the potential members.
For now the Big 8 is content with its current members. The committee did add: "The committee believes the Big 8 Conference could and possibly should accept Nevada High School and McDonald County High School into the conference membership."