Updated Wed, Mar 12, 2014 4:24 pm
Updated Wed, Mar 12, 2014 4:24 pm
Ohio’s oldest non-city athletic conference is on the brink of disintegrating. Gallia Academy, Jackson, Warren, and Logan have all petitioned to join the Tri-Valley Conference. The TVC Board of Control will discuss adding new members into the 45-year old league at a closed-door Wednesday tonight.
Gallia Academy, Jackson, and Warren submitted a letter of interest to the TVC board of control in late February, which expressed the possibility of joining the swiftly growing TVC. Logan submitted an application last week meaning that all four SEOAL schools are applying for TVC membership on an individual basis.
The four remaining SEOAL members recently petitioned to either merge with, or be absorbed by, the TVC as a group, but TVC by-laws prohibit it from “absorbing any conference or group of schools.” The rules state that applications must be made on a school-by-school basis.
With Portsmouth’s pending departure at the end of the 2014-15 school year, the SEOAL is left with four remaining teams. Four schools is the absolute minimum to maintain a league but the remaining schools have decided to pursue a new direction.
Gallia Academy was given a verbal offer to become the eight and final member of the Ohio Valley Conference earlier in the year but declined the offer at the time with hopes to keep the SEOAL alive. With the addition of Ironton and Portsmouth, the OVC will have seven members in the fall.
The SEOAL reached out to other schools about the possibility of joining the league earlier in the school year but the potential candidates declined the offer.
“Distance attracts us to the TVC because of how much it costs to travel so far and the solidarity of the number of teams they have in their league," Logan athletic director Theresa Schultheiss said.
The TVC currently holds 15 schools in two divisions across seven Southeastern Ohio counties (Athens, Gallia, Jackson, Meigs, Perry, Vinton, and Washington.) The league also expands across the Ohio River into Wahama W.VA, and will add a 16th next fall when River Valley leaves the OVC to join the rapidly-growing conference.
“We want to be able to find the league that is solid so that our kids can still vie and compete for league championships,” Schultheiss said.
Athens, Jackson, Portsmouth, Wellston, Middleport, Logan and GAHS assembled the founding SEOAL in 1925. The historic league is currently in its 89th season. Since Sept. 1, 2004, when Zanesville, Portsmouth, Chillicothe, and Ironton were officially admitted into the league, the SEOAL has gently crumbled away into four tiny pieces, which has called for conference realignment across southern Ohio.
If all teams are accepted, it is speculated the TVC will create multiple different divisions within the conference. SEOAL representatives received a letter from Southern principal and current TVC President Daniel Otto, which stated that with multiple schools requesting consideration for TVC membership, each school is being asked to present its case.
If any current SEOAL school were to be extended the offer to join the TVC, 12 of the 16 current schools would have to approve the addition of that particular school. The letter stated that a decision would not be made on Wednesday. All schools will be contacted individually on their petition status at a later date.
The SEOAL athletic directors will hold a league meeting on March 19.