TEUTOPOLIS - Teutopolis dealt another difficult blow to the Apollo Conference on Monday night.
The Teutopolis school board voted unanimously to remain in the National Trail Conference - a decision that was based mostly on economics - instead of joining the Apollo.
"We had deficit spending last year and there was, no doubt, going to be increased travel for us," Teutopolis' new superintendent Bill Fritcher said. "The board had concerns with extra spending in that arena when we're cutting in other areas."
The Apollo sought Teutopolis to stabilize the conference after losing three schools (Newton, Olney East Richland and Robinson) to the Little Illini Conference earlier this summer. That came shortly after all the schools agreed on expansion, which at the time was an effort to solidify the league.
Once the Apollo moved to six schools, adding T-Town, which doesn't have a football program, became a priority simply to improve the conference.
"A lot of disappointment," Mount Zion athletic director Mike Mose said after hearing about T-Town's decision. "I thought the quality of their programs and academics standards would have been a good fit.
"Now, we'll just have to go back to the drawing board."
Last week's public meeting in Teutopolis to address conference affiliation drew a large crowd of concerned community members, but only three showed up on Monday. The board thought the consensus after the public meeting was to switch conferences, but the tone between then and the board meeting changed.
"Since that time they heard from lots of people, even phone calls up until they left for the meeting, and those people said we needed to stay put," said Fritcher, who was surprised by the 7-0 vote to stay in the NTC. "I think people felt they had good access to the members and knew they had a difficult decision to make."
Fritcher thought discussions about economics changed some votes to make it unanimous.
"We're very appreciative of the offer and we're hopeful we haven't closed that door forever," Fritcher said.
Now, the Apollo is back to searching for additional members. As it stands, the conference has extended an invitation to Taylorville and expressed interest in Breese Mater Dei, who asked to join in the past.
Mose said there haven't been any new developments with those schools, but now the conference may be forced to start looking at bigger schools for expansion.
"It's a little bit frustrating," Mose said about what's happened to the Apollo during the summer. "We have to find the right fit and that might mean we have to look at bigger schools. I am sure those schools are out there."