Last updated: March 07. 2014 10:08PM - 2050 Views
By - bwalters@civitasmedia.com

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ATHENS, Ohio — Gallia Academy is headed to the Tri-Valley Conference … to hear what they have to say.

The Blue Devils will join fellow Southeastern Ohio Athletic League members Jackson, Logan and Warren on Wednesday, March 12, at a closed-door meeting with the TVC Board of Control in regards to possibly joining the 45-year old league.

GAHS — like Jackson and Warren — submitted a letter of interest to the TVC Board of Control in late February, which expressed the possibility of becoming a member of the rapidly-growing Tri-Valley Conference.

Logan also submitted an application to the TVC earlier this week, meaning that the entire SEOAL separately checked into joining the conference — which is a by-law of the TVC.

The TVC’s current by-laws prohibit it from ‘absorbing any conference or group of schools’. All changes to TVC by-laws, or its membership, must have the approval of the conference’s superintendents.

The TVC started with four teams in 1969 and has grown to 15 programs over the last four years, with River Valley set to become the 16th member later this fall. The TVC Ohio will consist of seven schools at the start of the 2014-15 school year, while the Hocking Division will remain in its current nine-team format.

The addition of any or all of the four SEOAL schools would give the TVC some options for expanding the league, whether it be adding two schools for three six-team divisions or adding all four for a quartet of five-team divisions.

And that is exactly what Gallia Academy and the other SEOAL schools are hoping to find out Wednesday … where each fits in the plan of an expanded Tri-Valley Conference.

In speaking with school officials Friday, Gallia Academy’s primary interest is to find out what will happen with the other SEOAL programs during this process — and whether or not the teams will still be together after a possible merger. GAHS is hoping that if an invitation is extended that all SEOAL schools will be able to remain in the same division.

Then again, Gallia Academy does not want to be the only SEOAL school left without a chair if the music stops — so finding out what the TVC could offer is also a major factor in this decision.

GAHS was given a verbal offer to become the eighth and final member of the Ohio Valley Conference earlier in the school year, but the Blue Devils declined the offer at the time in an attempt to keep the SEOAL alive. The SEOAL also approached a handful of schools about joining earlier in the school year, but none chose to make the switch.

The SEOAL expanded from six teams to 10 schools prior to the 2006-07 season, but has since lost Athens (Tri-Valley Conference), Zanesville and Marietta (East Central Ohio League), Chillicothe (South Central Ohio League) and Ironton, with Portsmouth next to depart.

Both Ironton and Portsmouth will officially become members of the OVC this fall, although the Trojans still plan plan to complete their SEOAL obligations through next winter.

The SEOAL — the state’s oldest non-city athletic conference — was formed in 1925 and is currently in its 89th season. But with only four members in its current stable, that would leave each team looking for roughly 70 to 80 percent of their contests from a non-conference format.

If Gallia Academy — or any current SEOAL member for that matter — were to be extended an offer to join the TVC, then 12 of the 16 current schools would have to approve the addition of that particular school.

The TVC’s current by-law regarding membership states that ‘other schools may petition for membership by formal written application. This petition should bear the signatures of the school’s Superintendent and Board of Education President. Election to membership shall be a favorable vote of not less than three-fourths (3/4) of the present membership. Each school shall be considered on an individual basis.’

In an invitation letter received by Jackson High School from Southern Principal and current TVC President Daniel Otto, the letter stated with multiple schools requesting consideration for TVC membership, each school is being asked to present its membership case.

After all schools have presented, the TVC “BOC will discuss possible admission of the schools that presented and other TVC business.”

Otto’s letter indicated that any final decisions on any membership petitions are not expected on Wednesday.

All schools will be considered on an individual basis, and will be contacted of their petition status at a later date.

For now, both Gallia Academy and the SEOAL are a little unclear on what the future holds. Then again, that is one of the main reasons for attending Wednesday’s meeting.

There will be a follow-up story with members of the Gallia Academy administration following Wednesday’s TVC meeting at the Ponderosa in Athens.

Jackson County Times-Journal sports editor Paul Boggs contributed to this report.

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