Gettysburg will begin play in the York Adams Interscholastic Athletic Association in the fall of 2014.
The YAIAA committee - composed of principals and athletic directors from league schools - voted at its meeting Monday to add the Adams County school as its 23rd member by a margin of 21-1. Kennard-Dale, which is roughly 50 miles from Gettysburg, was the lone member to vote no.
Gettysburg, currently in the Mid-Penn conference, has considered applying for admission to the YAIAA in previous years, but the attempts could not get past a school board vote. That changed Jan. 7, when the Gettysburg Area School District's board of education voted unanimously to apply.
"We're always looking at the opportunity to preserve programs and to minimize costs," Gettysburg High School principal Mark Blanchard said. "That may have been an initial reason we took a look at it. But once we began exploring York-Adams, several things stuck out at us."
One of those, he said, was the league's structure. Another was the involvement of its administrators, many of whom were present at York County Tech for Monday's meeting.
The process to add Gettysburg moved swiftly, quicker than Blanchard said he expected. Gettysburg athletic director Carlos Wampler said the YAIAA expressed mutual interest a few days into January. By the month's midway point, the school received its acceptance.
"As we moved into November and December, we started talking about budgets," Blanchard said. "The question always comes up: How do you maximize resources?
"Budget reasons might have been the start of the discussion, but it wasn't the deciding factor."
From the YAIAA's perspective, adding Gettysburg appeals to schools in and near Adams County.
Many of those schools moved to the Mid-Penn, including Bermudian Springs, Biglerville and Fairfield. Those three then joined the YAIAA in 2004, the last time it expanded.
One question now becomes, does the YAIAA add a 24th school to reach an even number?
YAIAA executive director George Shue would not rule it out, but he also said he doesn't think the two remaining York County schools would be interested.
One, Red Land, shares a school district with Cedar Cliff, which sits in Cumberland County, a two-school district that could complicate matters.
As for the other, "I don't think Northern (York), with their current setup, would be ready to leave the Mid-Penn," Shue said.
That leaves an odd number of schools for the league to schedule and align for the 2014-15 high school sports season. Gettysburg's 2011 fall enrollment was just more than 800, putting it in comparable sizes to Dover and Northeastern. In football, those schools play in Division II. The odd number of schools would force one out of a league game each week. Shue said discussions have already begun to alleviate that problem.
One answer could be the Mid-Penn, which also will have an odd number schools after Gettysburg leaves its Colonial Division.
"It's going to create bye weeks," Shue said, "but there's been some talk with other leagues already about the bye. We can possibly take care of that situation because not only are we going to be at that odd number, but they'll be at that odd number."
Shue said the 23-school league will force the YAIAA to look at realignment across all sports - perhaps even changing the number of divisions in some. The No. 1 factor, Shue said, will be enrollment.
"You can't do it all on location because it's just not fair to all of your schools," he said.
However, location should benefit Gettysburg at its levels below varsity. The district has been forced to consolidate numerous junior high programs in recent years.
"We see the opportunity with some flexibility at the junior high level," Blanchard said, "especially with our Adams County school districts, to really cut down on some expenses there and really enhance those programs."
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