The Miami Trace Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday night to terminate the school district’s membership with the South Central Ohio League (SCOL) and join five area school districts in merging with an existing league or creating a new league.
On Feb. 26, Miami Trace and Washington C.H. City Schools, as well as Greenfield McClain, Hillsboro and Chillicothe, announced their intentions to leave the eight-team SCOL at the end of the 2016-17 school year. Miami Trace was the first district to pass a resolution terminating the relationship and the other four departing school districts are expected to pass similar resolutions during upcoming board meetings.
“I think this is good for our student-athletes,” David Miller, the school board president, said during Tuesday’s meeting at the Board of Education Office. “This is the southeast district and that’s where they get all of their recognition from.”
The Jackson City School District is also expected to pass a resolution declaring its intent to join the five departing districts, whether it be in an existing league or a new six-team league, according to Miami Trace Superintendent David Lewis.
“We have had informal discussions with an area league about possibly joining them,” said Lewis, who added that it wouldn’t be prudent to disclose the league’s identity at this time. “We hope to soon make a presentation to this league.”
The decision made by the five departing schools to leave the SCOL came following a series of meetings in recent weeks concerning the possible expansion of the league. On Feb. 5, Jackson made a presentation in front of other school officials about joining the SCOL. “Following the presentation, we all talked about it and the Clinton County schools (East Clinton, Clinton-Massie and Wilmington) were not in favor,” said Lewis. “They cited distance and travel, and for East Clinton, the issue was also about addressing competitive balance within the league.”
“All of the schools except for the Clinton County schools wanted to take Jackson in,” said Lewis. “In order to expand, we have to get to nine before we get to 10, which was the goal. But when it became clear that we didn’t have the support of the Clinton County schools, it became clear that we needed to settle on a different direction. As a district, we wanted to be proactive rather than reactive.”
Meanwhile, the SCOL Board of Control met Monday evening prior to the league’s annual winter sports banquet. Winner said the board of control meeting started at 5 p.m. and adjourned at 5:30 p.m. He said all the athletic directors and high school principals, which make up the SCOL Board of Control, from all the current league members were present.
The move to secede from the SCOL was reportedly initiated by some of the superintendents from the schools planning to leave. Winner said no superintendents were at Monday’s meeting. He said that as things currently stand, the SCOL will continue to operate as an eight-team league for the 2016-17 school year.
Winner said he could say nothing else at this point, but he did release a statement following Monday’s SCOL Board of Control meeting. It said: “The eight SCOL athletic directors and the eight SCOL high school principals all pledged to work together for the betterment of the student-athletes during the time that the schools are members of the South Central Ohio League.”
According to Wilmington Athletic Director Troy Diels, the Chillicothe High School principal put an item on the table at Monday’s meeting regarding the five schools leaving the league beginning in the fall of 2017. A vote was taken and it came out 5-3 in favor of the motion. The five seceding schools voted in favor of it, and Clinton-Massie, East Clinton and Wilmington voted against it.
After breaking up in the early 1990s, the SCOL got back together in the fall of 2003 with Miami Trace, Washington C.H., Hillsboro, McClain, London and Madison Plains. Then, in the fall of 2005, Clinton-Massie joined. East Clinton joined in the fall of 2012, which was also the last year (2012-13 school year) for London and Madison Plains in the league. They left to join the Mid-State League.
Chillicothe joined in the fall of 2013 and Wilmington joined in the fall of 2014.
Jeff Gilliland of the Hillsboro Times-Gazette contributed to this report.
Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352 or on Twitter @rywica.