It was the recommendation of the Lehighton Area School District Athletic Committee and District Solicitor William Schwab not to accept the invitation to join the Colonial League for the 2014-2015 school year. By a five-to-three vote last evening, the school board agreed.
According to Schwab, LASD already has a contract with the Anthracite League for football and the Schuylkill League for other sports for 2014-2015.
If Lehighton would have accepted the Colonial League's invitation, the district could be found in breach of contract by members of the Anthracite/Schuylkill League who could not fill dates for their teams in the 2014-2015 school year.
In an attempt to postpone the vote last evening, School Board Members Dave Krause, Larry Stern, and Andrew Yenser tried to table the matter because they only received the information yesterday. They requested more time in order to make the most informed decision.
However, School Board Members Rocky Ahner, William Hill, Jr., Hal Resh, Wayne Wentz, and Thomas Zimmerman disagreed. They voted in favor of declining the Colonial League's offer. John Finnegan was absent from the meeting
"It was not an easy decision. We met about it many times," said LASD Athletic Committee Chairman Wayne Wentz. "We are legally bound to go to the Anthracite/Schuylkill League for the 2014-2015 school year."
Lehighton Athletic Director Kyle Spotts believed that the board had a tough decision to make.
"Our school board had a really tough decision to make, but I think either league was a viable option for our athletic programs," said Spotts. "I don't think we could've went wrong with either league."
Spotts also expressed his relief that a decision had finally been made.
"It's such a relief to know what league we will be playing in 2014-15," said Spotts. "I think there was some real uncertainty out there with the coaches and student-athletes and now that a decision has been made everyone can move on. We're proud to be a part of the AFL and Schuylkill League starting in 2014."
Colonial League Vice President Bryan Geist understands why the Lehighton School District chose not to accept their invitation.
"I think each school has to do what they have to do," said Geist. "Lehighton made this decision based on what they thought was best for their district. We reached out to them because we thought they would be a good fit for the Colonial League and they have expressed interest in the past. As I noted before, they made this decision based on what they thought was best.
For now, it looks like the Colonial League will not be expanding anytime in the near future.
"Right now it looks like our attempts to expand our league have fallen through," said Geist. "Looking at the next athletic cycle, which would be the 2014-15 season and with the current school year close to conclusion, expansion doesn't look like it will be happening at this point."
The only challenge left for Lehighton is deciding on what to do with the field hockey program because the Schuylkill League does not have that sport. According to Spotts Lehighton will ask the Mountain Valley Conference (Lehighton's current league) for an associate membership in field hockey. If circumstances arise that Lehighton can not join the MVC because of unforeseen reasons then they will have to become an independent.