The South Central Ohio League is open to expansion, including but not limited to adding as many as 4 schools to its current lineup.
SCOL commissioner Jim Winner handed a typed statement to the News Journal Wednesday night at the Wilmington High School girls basketball in Hillsboro.
“The league’s goal is to have 2 5- or 6-school divisions based on competitive balance of athletes, not necessarily enrollment and geography,” the statement read.
Winner’s statement indicated any school interested in joining the SCOL or discussing expansion should email him at email@example.com no later than Jan. 31, 2016.
The reason for the Jan. 31 deadline is to allow schools to give notice to current leagues so expansion can take place for the fall of 2017, assuming the interested schools are currently in a league. Any movement made after Jan. 31 would mean expansion before the fall of 2017 is unlikely.
Winner did indicate the SCOL would be interested in adding smaller schools from an enrollment standpoint but the league is not limiting itself at this time. He added many small schools in the immediate area are already “committed” to leagues and may not have interest in joining the SCOL.
The SCOL is currently made up of Wilmington, Clinton-Massie, East Clinton, Washington Senior, Miami Trace, Hillsboro, McClain and Chillicothe.
WHS athletic director Troy Diels, Clinton-Massie AD Cindy Running and East Clinton athletic director Jim Marsh all indicated they were OK with the league seeking new schools.
Neither Winner nor the athletic directors indicated any schools that might be interested in joining the SCOL. Winner did say Jackson has applied but the league, at this time, said it was not interested in Jackson given its location south and east of Chillicothe.
“We’re willing to look at anything we can to keep the SCOL alive and as competitive as possible,” said Diels.
Running said any expansion would need to be best for the “long-term viability” of the league, regardless of the enrollment or location of the schools.
“If it helps long-term viability, then we are for it,” she said. “If it doesn’t help long-term viability, then we wouldn’t be for it.”
Marsh emphasized the league is more interested in expanding for competition’s sake, rather than enrollment or location.
For instance, if smaller schools were added, a big school, small school format might work for most sports, but not football. Running said Clinton-Massie would not be interested in any new alignment that placed it in a small school division for football.
With expansion, schools may not be forced to play a home and away schedule with each league school, but would allow for some crossover games between divisions.
Marsh said East Clinton — the smallest school in the SCOL — would not be opposed to the league adding larger schools “if we get to 12 (schools).”
“Are we always going to be at a size disadvantage? Probably,” said Marsh. “But East Clinton believes that expansion of the conference can not only help us but, ultimately, we think it can help the conference. We think the conference will benefit.”
Marsh said expansion will create more opportunities “not only for individual awards, but team awards that are competitively sought after.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, or on Twitter @wnjsports.