Loss of revenue forces Ironton to leave SEOAL

Published 9:03 am Friday, November 28, 2008

A third return to the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League lasted about as long as a talk show hosted by Chevy Chase.

Ironton High School left the SEOAL for the second time in 1985, then returned in 2006. But spiraling costs, shrinking revenue, and extensive travel due to new members even farther away than the last stint in the league led the Ironton City School Board of Education to vote at its last regular meeting to once again leave the league.

Ironton board member Bob Vaughn made a proposal to leave the league last year, but other board members didn’t think it was necessary. When the financial numbers continued to shrink drastically, the board finally decided to rescind its decision to join the league.

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The three previous season prior to joining the league the average revenue per season was approximately $170,000.

Ironton athletic director Mark Vass said the move was strictly a financial decision.

“The competition was good. We liked the competition. It was all about finances. We lost $70,000 a year in gate receipts,” said Vass.

“If we had continued, we would have put ourselves in financial jeopardy. It’s nice to be in a league for scheduling, and the schools were great to work with. They were very professional in our dealings, but you just have to look at the numbers.”

Vass repeatedly informed the board of the financial troubles that were incurred due to the membership in the league. During the past two years he probed other avenues including reviving the Ohio-Kentucky Athletic League.

“When you’re in a league, you look for three things: competition, travel, and financial gain. Two of them were not in our favor,” said Vass.

“You don’t want to wait too long to make changes. We had to do something. That was the bottom line.”

As for now, Ironton will play one more season in the league and then return to independent status.

“We hope to continue playing the normal teams like Portsmouth, Gallipolis and Jackson, and maybe someone else as long as it’s financially beneficial. We’re not going to play in non-revenue sports,” said Vass.

Next season, teams will have to play the North Division schools on a home-and-home series meaning more long trips for basketball and spring sports.

“We’re helping the other sports so those teams don’t have to travel so far and get back late on school nights,” said Vass.