ATHENS - It's always good to have a contingency plan, even if it's not entirely popular.
After all, the first unopposed idea just fell through.
The Tri-Valley Conference has officially decided, by a 9-6 vote, to split the current 43-year old league into three separate divisions at the start of the 2014 fall season.
The decision - which required only a majority vote (8-7) to pass or fail - was made at the monthly league meeting held on Wednesday, Sept. 14, in Athens County.
The current TVC consists of 15 schools and two divisions, with nine smaller-sized schools playing in the Hocking Division and a half-dozen bigger communities competing in the Ohio Division.
And on December 8, 2010, league officials were nearly unanimous (14-0 vote in favor with one absent) in inviting River Valley High School to become the 16th TVC program as a member of the Ohio Division in the fall of 2014.
The Raiders - who are currently members of the Ohio Valley Conference until the spring of 2014 - accepted those terms, which would have joined them with Athens, Alexander, Meigs, Nelsonville-York, Vinton County and Wellston in a seven-team Ohio Division.
The current nine-team Hocking Division is made up of Belpre, Eastern, Federal Hocking, Miller, Southern, South Gallia, Trimble, Wahama and Waterford.
With River Valley's official acceptance, the hope was that one of the nine TVC Hocking programs would volunteer to move up to the bigger TVC Ohio to even the divisions at eight apiece - which would have made scheduling a lot easier year-round.
For example, an eight-team division could have seven league games in football over the course of the final seven weeks of the season, leaving three non-conference dates open at the beginning of the year - when practically everyone plays non-league opponents.
Basketball, volleyball, baseball and softball would all have 14 league games and enough flexibility for choice non-conference matchups in a pair of eight-team formats as well.
Trimble showed some interest in becoming that eighth member of the TVC Ohio in August, but ultimately announced at the September meeting that it wanted to remain a member of the TVC Hocking.
And that's what led to Plan B.
The 15 schools then discussed and voted on a split into three divisions, which ended with a 9-6 vote in favor of. Wellston, Belpre, Alexander, Trimble, Miller and Federal Hocking all voted no on the issue, and River Valley did not have a vote in the matter as a current member of the OVC.
The new twist mostly affects the Raiders, who will now enter the TVC in 2014 as the 10th member of the Hocking Division. The TVC Hocking will then split into two five-team subdivisions, based mostly on enrollment to keep things balanced. The TVC Ohio will remain unchanged from its current six-team format.
The new 10-member TVC Hocking will be divided into a North Division (RVHS, Wahama, Belpre, Trimble and Federal Hocking) and a South Division (Eastern, Southern, South Gallia, Waterford and Miller).
This setup allows more flexibility in the scheduling process, which had become a concern of the current Hocking Division members - playing only two non-conference football games and four non-conference contests in basketball.
The new two-division TVC Hocking will work as such in the fall of 2014:
- FOOTBALL: Each member of a division will play one another in weeks 7-10, which amounts to four league games. The North and South divisions will also have a crossover game in Week 6, but this contest does not count toward the final league standings. With five games filled every season under this format, it allows each program to schedule five non-conference games of choice at the beginning of the season - similar to the current format used by the TVC Ohio.
- BASKETBALL: Each member of a division will play one another twice (home-and-home) for a total of eight league games, plus the North and South will face one another once in non-conference matchups for 13 guaranteed games a season. Again, the five crossover games will not count in the league standings. With 22 regular season games allowed in Ohio now, each TVC Hocking program can schedule nine non-conference opponents of choice.
- BASEBALL/SOFTBALL: Each member of a division will play one another twice (home-and-home) for a total of eight league games, plus the North and South will face one another once in non-conference matchups for 13 guaranteed games a season. Again, the five crossover games will not count in the league standings.
- VOLLEYBALL: Each member of a division will play one another twice (home-and-home) for a total of eight league games, plus the North and South will face one another once in non-conference matchups for 13 guaranteed games a season. Again, the five crossover games will not count in the league standings.
There are still some details to be worked out in regards to how league championships will be decided in golf, cross country, wrestling and track and field starting the 2014 school year - which is still over two years away.
The addition of more teams to the TVC was also not discussed at the September meeting, meaning that the league appears to be fully-content with 16 members at the start of 2014.