The Gettysburg Area School District board of education voted 7-0 with two members absent Monday to approve a petition to join the York-Adams Interscholastic Athletic Association.
The YAIAA will vote whether to accept Gettysburg at its league meeting next Monday.
YAIAA executive director George Shue said he believes Gettysburg will be accepted, the first expansion since Bermudian Springs, Fairfield and Biglerville were added in 2004.
"I think it's a great thing to see Gettysburg enter the league," Shue said. "I think they're a good fit into our league."
This is Gettysburg's third attempt to leave the Mid-Penn Conference, which the Warriors joined in 1992 after the Blue Mountain League disbanded. They last attempted to leave in the late 1990s, but the board voted against the move.
If approved, the Warriors wouldn't be eligible for YAIAA competition until the 2014-15 academic year because the league is in the first year of a two-year schedule realignment. A vote was necessary Monday because the YAIAA was preparing to create schedules for the next two-year cycle.
Finances and the structure of the YAIAA administration led to the move.
As a member of the Mid-Penn, Gettysburg's middle school teams competed against the varsity teams' respective middle school programs. The YAIAA allows schools more leniency in choosing opponents at the middle school level, so Gettysburg could compete against local programs to save on travel costs.
"Is it essential to have a ninth-grade basketball team or eighth-grade cross country team?" Gettysburg High School principal Mark Blanchard said. "I think those things are great and important. The more things we can have our middle school kids participate in, the better. But at the end of the day, if you're looking for $10,000, those things are low-hanging fruit."
Blanchard expects the savings for travel at the varsity level to be minimal. He and Gettysburg superintendent Larry Redding weren't certain what the combined savings would be.
The move will also give Blanchard more oversight over the athletic program. The YAIAA administration comprises principals and the Mid-Penn revolves around the athletic directors.
"To have the opportunity to be more intimately involved in a significant part of the school by definition I'm responsible for, I see that as an advantage," he said.
Some athletic programs may face a negative impact. The Mid-Penn is stronger than the YAIAA in some sports, meaning competing against YAIAA schools will hurt the Warriors' power ratings that determine their postseason seed.
Girls' volleyball is stronger in the YAIAA than the Mid-Penn, leading Warriors coach Travis Meckley to be pleased with the move. However, Blanchard found Mid-Penn boys' basketball teams with similar winning percentages would receive higher seeds than their respective YAIAA teams.
"It was a consideration we took a look at," he said. "Is seeding in a district tournament for a varsity sport worth some of the sacrifice we would have to make for our non-varsity sports? At the end of the day, it wasn't a strong enough argument."
Added Redding: "I don't think that's as big an issue today than the last time this issue was considered. There are lots of opportunities for kids, regardless of Mid-Penn or York-Adams, to work their way through. And the same with teams. If they're good, there's a process there they're going to work through the competition."
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