HANNIBAL - Budget constraints have been felt all over the Switzerland of Ohio School District.
The financial plight of the district has led River High School to formally submit its letter of withdrawal from the Pioneer Valley Conference at the conclusion of the current school year.
"The PVC has been good to us and we've made a lot good relationships (with the other schools), but we have to get back to playing schools that are closer to us (geographically)," said River Athletic Director Mark Romick.
The Pilots will be eligible for all championships this school year and their student-athletes will still be able to be recognized on the all-conference teams.
Romick admitted that talk of leaving the PVC had been kicked around the past couple of years, but called the levy situation the "straw that broke the camel's back."
"Our busing situation created a monster for us," Romick said. "We've been transporting basically by cars during the fall. This winter, PVC games are starting reserve games at 5:30, so when you think about some of the trips we have to make, it's really tough.
"We've rolled with the punches and moved on as well as possible. Our coaches and parents have done a tremendous job. We've had no incidents, so we're keeping our fingers crossed and saying a good prayer that continues."
Though the Pilots are leaving the conference, they're not fully abandoning all of the teams in the league.
"Going to Fort Frye, Shenandoah, Caldwell or Buckeye Trail are like hour or more trips for us," Romick said. "We will still continue to play a lot of the schools in the PVC."
Obviously, the Pilots will continue to play long-time rivals Monroe Central and Frontier.
Decisions based on the other schedules could come further down the road as Romick and the Pilots' coaches take a look at the landscape of who is seeking games on what dates.
"There are a lot of logistics involved in putting together a schedule, especially for a sport like football," Romick pointed out. "We have schools within 15, 20 or 30 minutes from us that we're not playing, but it comes back to whether or not we can both fit each other into our schedules."
In terms of scheduling, the Pilots' withdrawal leaves the remaining PVC members in a bit of a bind, too.
"The PVC has asked us if we'd continue playing as many teams as possible into next year in case the other schools can't find a replacement for us," Romick said. "We may only make one or two changes (in football) for the 2014 season with the way it looks right now until other things open up."
Romick pointed out schools such as Tyler Consolidated, Shadyside and Beallsville as possible future opponents for the Pilots.
"We've talked with Beallsville and they don't have any openings that could match ours," Romick said. "Tyler is actually looking to move games, so they can play us. It's a tough situation because there's always someone looking to jockey for position."
While football is the sport that often times stirs in the drink in conference jockeying, Romick indicated all of the Pilots' sports were consulted.
"All of our coaches were on board," Romick, who is the head boys basketball and baseball coach, said. "The vote (to leave the PVC) was pretty over-whelming actually."
The Pilots' withdrawal leaves the PVC membership for the 2014-15 school year as: Buckeye Trail, Caldwell, Fort Frye, Frontier, Monroe Central and Shenandoah.