Cheering squad penalized

CONNORVILLE – The Ohio Valley Athletic Conference issued Buckeye Local its penalties, by formal letter Thursday morning, for the actions of its cheering squad during last month’s OVAC Cheering Championship.

The Panthers, who were still unhappy with how the 2012 competition ended, knowingly broke several rules during the course of its routine, which led to major deductions.

The OVAC Executive Board met Wednesday night at the OVAC office in Bellaire and spent upwards of two hours discussing and formulating what it believed was a fair, but stern punishment.

“We met, reviewed all of the facts we had, shared opinions and did what we thought was fair for all parties involved,” said OVAC Executive Secretary Tom Rataiczak. “The punishment is very well thought out and now, from our end, we feel this is the end of the matter.”

Buckeye Local Superintendent Mark Miller, who released the punishment to the media, called the OVAC’s rulings, “fair.”

“As superintendent, I want to say that I am pleased that the OVAC and its (Executive) Board took the time to hear all sides of this dispute,” Miller said. “We accept their decision. There are repercussions for the people involved and now everyone can move on.”

The Buckeye Local cheering squad will be welcome in all future OVAC Cheering Competitions, including 2014. However, it will be on a three-years probation.

Buckeye has the option of not competing, but the probationary period follows it. By that, the OVAC means that if the Panthers sit out in 2014 and return in 2015, their probation would begin in 2015.

The probation says if Buckeye Local commits blatant violations, it “would never be permitted to compete again.”

The two senior members of the Buckeye Local cheering squad won’t be eligible to participate on the OVAC All-Star Football Game cheering squad or be eligible for any OVAC Cheering scholarship.

Panthers’ cheering advisor Lynda Piergallini received the harshest penalty. She’s been banished from OVAC competitions at any level, for any sport for three years.

Thus, if Buckeye Local competes next year in the OVAC cheering, Piergallini won’t be able to coach her squad.

She may, however, buy a ticket and sit in the crowd. That punishment also goes for other events, too. For instance, if Buckeye Local’s boys basketball team advanced to the OVAC 4A title game next winter, she would not be permitted to coach the cheerleaders at that event either.

Miller didn’t commit one way or another on whether or not Buckeye Local will compete or not in next year’s OVAC Cheering competition.

“We’re going to discuss it,” Miller said.

Miller also indicated Piergallini’s status as cheering advisor would be looked at the same all coaches are reviewed after each season.

“At Buckeye Local, the cheering coach’s duties are complete for the school year once she has set up the next year’s cheering tryouts,” Miller said. “The Athletic Committee will meet just the same we do every other year.”

No Buckeye Local school official addressed the OVAC’s Executive Board during its meeting.

However, Rataiczak pointed out that Miller, Principal Coy Sudvary and Athletic Director Sam Jones were all invited if they so chose.

“We deal with administrators,” Rataiczak said. “All three had the opportunity to come and speak, but not school board members, parents or fans.”