Maybe its time to think big about conference makeup
It's nothing unique, but definitely not normal.
Maybe not a hot mess, but nowhere near clean.
It's the indefinably fluid state of the DuPage Valley Conference and Upstate Eight Conference. And for all the action we've seen the last few months, you ain't seen nothing yet.
Over the next two months in this space we'll examine different aspects of the conference changes in DuPage County and portions of Kane and Cook counties. Despite evolving into a topic worthy of book writing, the focus will remain on the critical issues moving forward.
For starters we'll look at the current state of affairs in the DVC, the UEC and other conferences affected by a series of dominoes that either have fallen or could fall in the near future.
It began three months ago when, after years of discussion, the school board of West Chicago Community High School District 94 voted to leave the DVC for the Metro Suburban Conference. A month later the DVC Board of Control welcomed Lake Park as the league's new eighth member, a move coinciding with the Lancers' departure from the UEC.
Sound simple? That's only the beginning.
The UEC released word that it aimed to replace Lake Park, and in a surprising move West Chicago decided to pursue the opening. In late October the Metro Suburban Conference responded by rescinding its offer for the Wildcats to join its group of schools.
It suddenly seemed like a swap between the DVC and UEC: West Chicago for Lake Park. But then the UEC took the interesting step of expansion.
In addition to inviting West Chicago, the UEC invited fellow DVC members Glenbard East and West Aurora in an attempt to grow from 14 schools to 16. Should both schools accept the invitation — decisions that may not be made until 2013 — the DVC will be left as a six-school entity.
Common logic says the DVC will look again to the UEC and reform as an eight-team conference by snagging two of the three District 204 schools: Metea Valley, Neuqua Valley or Waubonsie Valley. But, in a topic we'll address in a few weeks, be careful with your assumptions.
That pretty much brings us up to date, but where do we go from here? And where should we go?
Even though all the action thus far is taking place between the DVC and the UEC in an odd "you take mine and I'll take yours" scenario, eventually the domino effect could spread to other conferences like the West Suburban and Metro Suburban. If, that is, the DVC can find schools to join its ranks.
It's time to look at this movement as a moment of opportunity. Because of shifting demographics and enrollments, DuPage County just isn't the same as it was decades ago when these conferences were formed.
Instead of shying away from change and hunkering down in the status quo, it's time to embrace changes that could transform DuPage County athletics for the better.
In the coming weeks we'll look at various scenarios while focusing on what the conferences, and perhaps the IHSA, might do to address the situation. We'll even propose our own changes.
In the end none of it may matter. There's a theory held by some administrators that district superintendents may just lock DVC and UEC principals and athletic directors in a room and not let them out until they've determined reasonable conference groupings.
It's an interesting concept but a lost opportunity.
Let's get everyone involved.
The first step — perhaps the most important — is getting everyone thinking about the possibilities.
Follow Kevin on Twitter @kevin_schmit
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