FIFTY YEARS AGO…
Monticello, Fallsburg Are Denied Admission to the Orange County League
by John Conway
MONTICELLO—Fifty years ago this month, in April of 1971, both Monticello and Fallsburg school districts applied for admission to compete in the Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association, or the Orange County League for short.
It was not the first such application for either school. Monticello had been denied admission to the league twice before, and both schools had had applications denied in January of 1971, even though at that same meeting OCIAA officials voted to amend league rules so that out-of-county schools could be admitted. The OCIAA was scheduled to consider each school’s latest application at its April 21, 1971 meeting.
The OCIAA had never made public its reasons for denying the applications, but a little sleuthing by Times Herald-Record sportswriter Lou Hansen uncovered some of the reasons for the negativity, at least in regard to Monticello.
Hansen wrote in an April 10 column that he had been told after the last vote denying Monticello admission to the league that “the general feeling of OCIAA members was that incidents of rowdyism made Monticello undesirable, and that the school would have ‘to clean its own house before its application could be seriously considered.’”
Monticello Athletic Director Edward Kennedy told Hansen he had ascertained that there were four reasons the school was denied admission to the league, the accusations of rowdyism being one of them. Kennedy said a low caliber of play, travel distance, and the fact that the school was not located in Orange County were the other reasons.
While Kennedy admitted that there had been one incident of “rowdyism” following a game the previous January, he said that in general, “the overall conduct of our teams and spectators, although not angelic, seemed to at least be on a par with the conduct of our opponents.”
Furthermore, Kennedy said, the caliber of play was a cyclical phenomenon, and Monticello just happened to be in a down cycle at present. He pointed out there was little the school could do about the fact that it was not in Orange County and that it was a certain distance from Orange County schools.
Those who knew better could have pointed out that for years Monticello had played basketball and soccer in the DUSO League, which included teams from Poughkeepsie in Dutchess County, Kingston in Ulster County, and Newburgh and Middletown in Orange County as well as Monticello from Sullivan County. The distances between Poughkeepsie and Monticello, Kingston and Monticello, and Newburgh and Monticello was likely greater than that almost any of the Orange County League schools would have to travel to away games should the Monties be admitted.
Hansen wrote that it was his opinion that the OCIAA officials were hypocritical, and called for them to be better community members and admit the two schools, both of whom were struggling to fill their schedules following the demise of the DUSO and DUSO Village Leagues.
Despite Kennedy’s reasoning and Hansen’s advocacy, the OCIAA once again denied both Monticello’s and Fallsburg’s applications at its April meeting, this time citing the league’s financial woes.