MOUNT VERNON — Mount Vernon High School has had “no discussions” regarding a move to another conference, according to multiple sources.
During the Mount Vernon school board meeting Monday, board member Steve Thompson suggested the school should look into joining the Ohio Cardinal Conference.
On Tuesday, Thompson clarified his statement.
“It wasn’t a proposal,” Thompson told the News. “I’ve had a few people share with me that the Ohio Cardinal Conference has towns more in line with Mount Vernon, such as Ashland and Wooster. Sizewise, they’re more similar.”
Mount Vernon has been a member of the Ohio Capital Conference since 1968. The school is a member of the Capital Division, along with such nearby schools as Delaware Hayes, Big Walnut and New Albany.
Thompson argues that conference schools from longer distances, such as Franklin Heights, don’t bring a large paid attendance to Mount Vernon games.
“I just want (Mount Vernon superintendent) Bill Seder and (activities director) Mark Shively to research the two conferences,” said Thompson. “It’s just me as a board member, wanting to explore what we’re missing or what we’re not missing.”
Both Shively and Ohio Cardinal Conference commissioner Ron Dessecker said the school has not inquired about membership. Dessecker said the conference has no plans to expand but that he “would look into it.”
“Right now, at this point in time, we have not been approached by Mount Vernon,” said Dessecker. “Right now, it’s a non-issue.”
The Ohio Cardinal Conference consists of schools from Richland, Ashland, Wayne and Holmes counties. Ashland, Wooster and Mansfield Senior high schools are about the same size as Mount Vernon. The conference also has Clear Fork, Lexington, Mansfield Madison, Orrville and West Holmes, which are smaller. Orrville is Division V in football, while Mount Vernon is D-II.
Unlike the Ohio Capital Conference, which consists entirely of schools in the Central District, all of the Ohio Cardinal Conference schools are in the Northeast and Northwest Districts.
“We’re not going to get any recognition for our kids if we play all of our games in the Northwest or Northeast Districts,” said Shively. “I don’t see how that benefits our kids.”
A study of the two conferences shows few benefits in a move. Smaller schools would mean better win-loss records, but it would be more difficult for the football team to qualify for the postseason. Also, Mount Vernon’s membership would make it a nine-team league, limiting the number of nonconference opponents that could be scheduled.
There would be virtually no difference regarding transportation. Averaging all of Mount Vernon’s current conference opponents, a one-way trip from Mount Vernon to every other school in the Capital Division averages 37.1 miles. An average trip to an Ohio Cardinal Conference school is 36.1 miles.
Still, the Ohio Cardinal Conference, which has been around since 2003, might be appealing.
“I’m not trying to be a radical board member trying to upset the apple cart,” said Thompson. “I’ve been a part of the (Ohio Capital Conference), and played in it, too. But I think it would be irresponsible to not take a look at something if it might benefit us.”
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