Contract approved, but with questions

EAST PALESTINE — A village councilman with a home-based sports streaming network asked the board of education for approval this week to contract with his fairly new company for East Palestine sports coverage.

DJ Yokley is founder and CEO of Your Sports Network, also known as YSN, and presented a company overview to the board on Wednesday. He founded the company in 2017.

Some on the board were not pleased with the way things went last year when Yokley attempted to get a contract then, however.

Specifically, they felt that Yokley did not follow the correct chain of command and were not happy that he never met face to face with then-Superintendent Traci Hostetler.

Yokley confirmed he only discussed the matter with Hostetler via email after first speaking with Athletic Director Dwayne Pavkovich.

Board member Rube Ginder said he told Yokley personally to meet with Hostetler, but he chose not to.

“You didn’t uphold your end,” Ginder said.

Board member Ron Novak said that Yokley not meeting with Hostetler in person to discuss the matter was disrespectful and asked Yokley if he ever apologized to her.

Yokley said he went to the athletic director first because that was what he has been doing in other places and that he has not apologized to Hostetler because he didn’t feel it was necessary.

In fact, he said that he felt her response was “a little bit offensive.”

According to a portion of the email Yokley read aloud during the meeting and showed the Morning Journal afterward, Hostetler asked Yokley to increase the donation that would be coming back to the district’s athletic department from advertising sales.

The company offered to give back 10 percent of the revenue from advertising sales to the district’s athletic department as a result of the partnership, but Hostetler felt that should be increased to 20 percent, according to the email.

Yokley said she felt the company would be profiting from students who are getting no direct benefit. She also made a few other requests, including giving the board authority to approve of sponsorships for East Palestine’s sports streaming.

Novak agreed that he felt a 10 percent donation was not sufficient, since the company would be realizing a profit from the agreement.

Yokley countered that the profit would not be significant once taxes, streaming costs, paying the salesperson and the donation back to the district is factored in. He said taxes and streaming costs account for 60 percent alone.

Ginder said that since then, some of the concerns have been addressed.

However, some on the board were still uncomfortable with language in the contract presented that evening. Specifically, board member Sue Weigle was not happy that the contract stated “up to 10 percent” instead of a flat 10 percent donation to the athletic department.

She was also concerned with language included regarding a fee for services, although Yokley stressed that the district would not be charged anything.

Yokley explained the contract was a “general contract” given to everyone he is seeking agreements with. He also said he could not increase the donation percentage for East Palestine, because then he would have to do that for everyone else as well.

In his presentation Yokley said that as an East Palestine alumni, he felt that the district wasn’t getting enough sports coverage and he wanted to do something about it.

“In 2017 I created Your Sports Network to give all schools, and all organizations the option to be covered more than just for highlights, not just once a year, but to take the pride that people have for that organization, or district, and use it for the good,” he said.

He went on to say that streaming sports allows a way for people to see games that may not be able to otherwise as result of age, restriction, location, and in some cases, even finances. The company started with four schools last year and are currently at 14, with six organizations also signed up and more signing each month, he added.

“There are some very special student-athletes, and a stellar band program that walk through the doors of this campus every day, who some of them may never be broadcast, or names mentioned in the paper, and that’s a shame,” he said.

When it came time to vote on the agreement with Yokley Scott Corporation LLC for the audio/video transmission agreement, Novak and Weigle opposed while board members Ginder, Doug Lammert, and Brian Moore approved. As a result, the motion passed by majority vote.

Superintendent Chris Neifer said he will meet with Yokley to iron out the concerns addressed by Weigle and Novak regarding the contract.

“I think it’s something the students deserve,” Neifer said of the streaming service.