The principals of the Buckeye 8 Athletic League voted down a proposal from Bellaire High School to play only once in basketball season Friday afternoon at a meeting in Wintersville.
The proposal, which was submitted in late January by Bellaire Local Schools officials, fell by a 5-2 count with only Martins Ferry and St. Clairsville supporting the idea.
"The principals just felt that we should stay with two games in basketball," said Buckeye 8 President Steve Cowser. "It's understood where Bellaire is coming from, but for the league to be a good league, basketball teams need to play each other twice."
There was also an idea thrown out at the January meeting of league officials, principals and athletic directors that possibly Bellaire stays in the league as a football member only. According to Cowser, that option was never discussed at the principals' meeting.
Also at the January meeting, which was held at Undo's West in St. Clairsville, Bellaire had indicated it thought it was required to stay through football season only since it's a 'contracted' sport.
However, league by-laws call for participation for two full school years, which Bellaire will now honor.
"We're happy that Bellaire is going to honor the arrangement," Cowser said.
Bellaire submitted its formal withdrawal notice in late February of last year, citing its declining enrollment and rising costs of travel as two of its main reasons.
Buckeye 8 rules call for a 2-year notice before you're officially out of the league, but the member loses all of its voting privileges at league meetings.
This is currently the first of the two school years and Bellaire has said it will fulfill its requirement and stay in the league for next year.
Even with Bellaire's impending departure for the fall of 2014, Cowser believes the Buckeye 8 is still on very solid footing.
"The Buckeye 8 is a very strong organization," Cowser said. "We've got great fan following and lots of rivalries."
Assuming Bellaire follows through on its plan of withdrawing, where does the Buckeye 8 go from there?
"Everything is on the table," Cowser said. "It's just a matter of how we want to approach it. We've talked about sticking with the seven schools, finding a replacement or even possibly two divisions."
The next meeting of the Buckeye 8 isn't scheduled until June.
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