MARION -- The Marion District 2 school board informally weighed in Tuesday on Centralia's push to get Althoff Catholic High School expelled from the South Seven Conference -- and members indicated they prefer the conference remain intact.
After more than 20 minutes of spirited discussion the Marion board took no action, but the general consensus was that both Althoff Catholic, of Belleville, and Centralia are schools Marion is well-suited to compete with.
Marion Athletic Director Ryan Goodisky and Marion High School Principal Joey Ohnesorge came before the board to report that Centralia wants Althoff expelled on the basis on several examples of what it calls "unsportsmanlike" conduct.
It came to a head in 2016 when a Centralia Orphan kicker was roughed-up late by an Althoff Crusader. The action led to altercations between fans and coaches.
Centralia's school board passed a resolution last month, demanding Althoff's expulsion.
Goodisky said the dispute is putting Marion in a tough place ahead of the next interscholastic athletics meeting on Jan. 16.
"This is tough," Goodisky said, noting that due to rotating leadership, Ohnesorge is now president of the conference, which is represented by member-school principals. Other conference members are Cahokia, Carbondale and Mount Vernon.
Granite City has applied to join the South Seven, which would bring the conference to seven teams. It's been six "for a very long time," Goodisky noted. And six members are the minimum a conference can have to ensure an automatic playoff berth.
Board President Michael Absher said he did not think the board should formally vote on Centralia's expulsion efforts, but it was clear from comments that most of the board's sympathies lie with Althoff Catholic.
Member Joseph Bleyer called the actions by Centralia "selfish" and wondered aloud if the league itself ought not have an anti-bullying policy, just like in Marion's schools.
Board member B.W. Bruce stated that he would be opposed to Althoff's expulsion from the South Seven.
"I would agree with what B.W. just said," Absher said. "If anybody doesn't have anything contrary to that, I think you know where we stand."