Ottumwa to vote on pulling out of CIML, forming new sporting conference

Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 10:00 PM CST
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OTTUMWA, Iowa (KYOU) - The Ottumwa Community School District athletic teams could soon be playing in a new conference. The school board will vote on that issue during a meeting on March 8, after concern about an uneven playing field within the conference.

Since the late 1990′s, Ottumwa has played sports in the Central Iowa Metropolitan League (CIML). But a lot has changed over the past 20 years, specifically the enrollment numbers at each school. According to the Ottumwa Activities Director, Scott Maas, that change in demographics is affecting the play on the field.

“It’s not a level playing field when an Ottumwa, or a Mason City plays a Waukee, or a Ankeny Centennial. It’s just not a fair fight. I believe we’re the fourth smallest school in the CIML as it stands right now. At one time, I believe in the 70′s, Ottumwa might’ve been the biggest high school in the state of Iowa,” said Maas.

Maas said while Ottumwa and the other smaller districts compete with the bigger schools in certain sports, there are other competitions, like girls basketball, where some scores have gotten out of hand.

“We want to put our kids in a situation where, not that it’s all about winning, but we want to compete. We don’t want to put kids in a situation where there’s just not a lot of a chance for them to compete,” Maas continued.

The Ottumwa School Board and nine other schools, including Marshalltown, Mason City, Fort Dodge, and Ames, are proposing breaking away from the CIML and forming their own, ten-team conference.

“It’s been great being in the CIML for 20 years. It’s the best conference in the state; no question about it as far as the best teams. But, if we have the opportunity to do something that makes more sense for Ottumwa kids going forward, then that’s what we’re going to do,” Maas finished.

Ottumwa will vote on the potential move on March 8. The other nine schools involved will also vote sometime this month. If it were to pass, the new conference would debut during the 2023 school year.

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