West Chicago will accept an invitation to join the Upstate Eight Conference for the 2013-14 school year, and fellow DuPage Valley Conference schools Glenbard East and West Aurora are each considering invitations extended Wednesday to join the UEC in 2014-15, school officials said Thursday.
"Obviously, for the 2013-14 school year West Chicago is going to come in and balance things out rather nicely for us," said Batavia athletic director Dave Andrews and the president of UEC athletic directors. "They'll give us an even number (of schools) and be able to take Lake Park's spot for us on the schedule."
For West Chicago it's the culmination of a series of events. Earlier this fall the Metro Suburban Conference invited West Chicago to join it, then the MSC angrily rescinded that offer two weeks ago after Lake Park left the UEC to take West Chicago's place in the DuPage Valley and West Chicago told the MSC it would seek to assume Lake Park's place in the UEC.
"The people of West Chicago support (West Chicago principal Moses Cheng) and his patience and frankness through this whole thing," West Chicago athletic director Doug Mullaney said. "He was very transparent and very upfront throughout this whole thing."
Mullaney said West Chicago will assume Lake Park's spot in the UEC Valley Division, at least for now, with the River Division remaining intact. Each division will have seven teams.
"I don't know what (the conference) will look like in the years to come," Mullaney said.
"We're very excited to be a part of the Upstate Eight Conference," Cheng added.
West Chicago teams have found it difficult to compete in the DuPage Valley Conference over the years as the smallest school in the league. Competitiveness, proximity and the number of underclass levels were all reasons for the move, Cheng and Mullaney said.
"There are definitely schools that are very comparable to what West Chicago is, and we would like to maximize our opportunity to compete with them," Cheng said.
"They're a good match for their location and the size of their school and their competitiveness," added Batavia principal Lisa Hichens, president of the UEC Board of Control. "We think they're a good match."
West Chicago expects to make its move complete when its school board approves the move at a date to be determined. Glenbard East still is considering the offer.
"We received an email yesterday with the invitation," Glenbard East principal Josh Chambers said. "Finally having something tangible puts everything in motion for us. We can move forward with our due diligence. Until West Chicago left the DVC, it was all just conjecture."
Chambers stressed Glenbard East, if it opts to leave the DVC, will leave according to DVC bylaws. That's why the invitation to join the UEC for Glenbard East and West Aurora is for the 2014-15 school year.
"We want to make sure they have all their ducks in a row before we make a final decision," Hichens said. "...We just need to make sure that we honor the process and we need to make sure people talk to their communities about it."
Representatives from West Aurora, West Chicago and Glenbard East have been invited to a UEC meeting in mid-December.
The DuPage Valley Conference athletic directors have their regularly-scheduled meeting on Dec. 5 and the principals meet on Dec. 11.
Phone calls Thursday to West Aurora officials were not returned.
John Lemon, Dave Oberhelman, Kevin Schmit and Orrin Schwarz contributed to this story.