MONTICELLO — The Big East Conference will disappear. A new, yet-to-be-named conference will form.
The Cedar Valley and Wamac conference will get a little smaller. The Tri-Rivers Conference will get a lot bigger.
And Cedar Valley Christian School will have a home.
Those are the likelihoods disclosed from a meeting Tuesday morning in the Berndes Center at the Jones County Fairgrounds.
Mike Dick (executive director of the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union) and David Anderson (Iowa High School Athletic Association assistant director) shared the recommendation that their mediation team will direct to the Iowa Department of Education.
Read the full release below:
A hearing has been called for March 28, and a final decision on the matter will be rendered shortly thereafter. If the recommendation is passed, all movement will take place in time for the 2013-14 school year.
“We think this is a reasonable recommendation,” Anderson said before the meeting. “We know everybody won’t agree with it. But the recommendation won’t change by the discussion and conversation we have today.”
Dick said, “Honestly, this hasn’t been a fun situation to be placed into. Hopefully, we have done the best to make an operable situation for everybody.”
Cedar Valley Christian sought entrance into the Tri-Rivers Conference, and was denied. Camanche tried to move from the Big East to the Cedar Valley Conference, and was nixed.
Instead of overruling the conferences’ denials, the committee chose instead to tweak several area conferences. If the recommendation is passed, here is what will happen, effective the 2013-14 school year:
* The Big East will be dead. The three largest schools (Camanche, Northeast and Bellevue) will go to a new league — for now, we’ll it Conference TBA — while the others (Bellevue Marquette, Calamus-Wheatland, Clinton Prince of Peace, Midland and Preston) will head into an expanded Tri-Rivers.
* Conference TBA will become a seven-school league by taking North Cedar out of the Cedar Valley Conference, Anamosa out of the Wamac Conference, and Monticello and Cascade out of the Tri-Rivers Conference.
* Cedar Valley Christian will join the expanded Tri-Rivers. CVCS principal Jeff Pospisil had not been informed about the meeting.
“This is all news to me,” he said. “I’m tickled that we will be a part of a conference that will help us in scheduling.”
Cedar Valley Christian is in its first year as an IHSAA- and IGHSAU-sanctioned school. It hosts football, basketball, volleyball and baseball programs. Pospisil said a plan is in place to have a gymnasium built in time for the 2013-14 school year, which would coincide with its Tri-Rivers entrance.
Anamosa will be in its fourth athletic alliance — from the now-defunct Big Bend to the Tri-Rivers, to the Wamac, to Conference TBA — since 2003.
Derek Roberts (athletics director at Anamosa) and Dain Jeppson (AD at North Cedar) both were surprised at their assignment to jump conferences.
“I hadn’t even thought of this as an option,” Roberts said. “The Wamac is definitely one of the best, toughest conferences in Eastern Iowa.
“Probably, for the population of our community, this might be more fitting.”
Jeppson said, “I didn’t see this coming, and I have mixed emotions about it. With our newness to the Cedar Valley Conference, I thought we would stay together.”
Other than North Cedar, the Cedar Valley Conference will remain intact. Had Camanche gained entrance into the league (and Northeast and Bellevue followed), it would have been a good bet that Mid-Prairie and Iowa City Regina would be looking elsewhere.
“I’m happy with the recommendation,” said Regina principal Dave Krummel, the Cedar Valley Conference president. “I’m sad to see North Cedar go; they’ve been a good addition. But compared to the rumors that we’d been hearing, I’m happy with the results.”
Krummel said the league will not actively pursue a replacement for North Cedar, but “we would listen if somebody is interested. An eight-team league is easier than seven.”
The recommendation states that all schools affected ”shall not be allowed to seek new membership until the beginning of the 2017-18 school year. (But) there shall be no restriction on schools not assigned by this recommendation to seek membership in any of the realigned conferences.”
And that brings us to the void in the Wamac created by Anamosa’s reassignment.
Josh Johnson, athletics director at Union High School in LaPorte City, said that “the heat is starting to pick up” around the community to seek entrance into a 3A league.
Union would be a natural fit in enrollment and geography to replace Anamosa as a 16th school. If Union would be allowed, it would likely be placed in the West Division and someone (probably Center Point-Urbana or Marion) would be moved to the East.
Anamosa, Monticello, Cascade and Camanche were together in the Big Bend before that conference dissolved in 2003. Now, a decade later, they’ll probably all be together again.
As a school much larger than most of its rivals, Monticello was kind of misplaced in the Tri-Rivers.
“I don’t know if I’d say ‘misplaced,’ but one of the first things (AD Bennett Eastburn) said when I came here five years ago was, ‘We’re kind of big for the Tri-Rivers,’ ” said Monticello superintendent Chris Anderson.
“From a self-centered approach, I’ve very pleased. I think it’s great that we’ll be back with Anamosa.”
The enlarged Tri-Rivers will have some sorting out to do.
On the recommendation sheet, the mediation team said that “participation in the divisions shall be determined by the conference.”
Springville AD Kyle Koeppen is pushing an option of eight teams in one division (the remaining members of the current Tri-Rivers, plus Lisbon), with the current Big East members and Cedar Valley Christian forming a six-team division.
“I really hope we can make that work,” Koeppen said. “I want to keep the present Tri-Rivers as intact as possible.”
Longtime Tri-Rivers member Starmont already has notified the league that it will exit for the Upper Iowa Conference in 2013.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NEW CONFERENCE AFFILIATION
(Effective 2013-14 school year)
Cedar Valley Conference (7) – Durant, Iowa City Regina, Mid-Prairie, Tipton, West Branch, West Liberty, Wilton.
“Conference TBA” (7) — Anamosa, Bellevue, Camanche, Cascade, Monticello, North Cedar, Northeast.
Tri-Rivers Conference (14, to be split into 2 divisions) — Alburnett, Bellevue Marquette, Calamus-Wheatland, Cedar Valley Christian, Central City, Clinton Prince of Peace, East Buchanan, Edgewood-Colesburg, Lisbon, Maquoketa Valley, Midland, North Linn, Preston, Springville.
Wamac Conference East Division (7) — DeWitt Central, Dyersville Beckman, Maquoketa, Mount Vernon, Solon, West Delaware, Western Dubuque.
Wamac Conference West Division (8) — Benton Community, Center Point-Urbana, Clear Creek Amana, Independence, Marion, Vinton-Shellsburg, Waterloo Columbus, Williamsburg.
Anamosa, Big East Conference, Camanche, Cascade, Cedar Valley Christian, Cedar Valley Conference, Dain Jeppson, David Anderson, Derek Roberts, Josh Johnson, Kyle Koeppen, Mike Dick, Monticello, North Cedar, Tri-Rivers Conference, Wamac Conference