CEDAR RAPIDS — In a little more than a year, three area conferences will become two.
The Iowa Department of Education rendered its decision Tuesday on an ongoing dilemma with athletics affiliation.
In a nutshell, the IDOE decided to dissolve the Big East Conference and expand the Tri-Rivers and Cedar Valley conferences, the latter of which will be renamed, to 13 schools apiece.
According to the decision, made by legal counsel Carol Greta and approved by IDOE Director Jason Glass, “This has been a uniquely complicated process. Rather than the usual request from a single school or school district to join an activities conference, the initial request herein quickly spawned others.”
All changes are effective the beginning of the 2013-14 school year, and the realignments are binding through the end of the 2016-17 school year.
The Tri-Rivers Conference will consist of current TRC schools Alburnett, Central City, East Buchanan, Maquoketa Valley, North Linn and Springville, as well as Lisbon (which was moving from the Big East anyway), and current Big East schools Bellevue Marquette, Calamus-Wheatland, Clinton Prince of Peace, Midland and Preston, plus Cedar Valley Christian School, which is concluding its first school year sanctioned by the IHSAA and IGHSAU as an independent.
“I’m glad to have it resolved,” said Mike Hilmer, athletics director at North Linn. “There are a lot of logistics to get figured out.”
Copy of decision (story continues below embedded document)
The to-be-renamed league will consist of all eight current Cedar Valley Conference schools (Durant, Iowa City Regina, Mid-Prairie, North Cedar, Tipton, West Branch, West Liberty and Wilton), plus the two largest schools of the Tri-Rivers (Cascade and Monticello) and the three largest schools of the Big East (Bellevue, Camanche and Northeast).
“Wow,” said Mid-Prairie AD Steve Hollan, whose school will have some long road trips ahead. “We didn’t expect this at all.
“My instant reaction is a concern about travel. Academics is our No. 1 priority, and I don’t want to take kids out of the class room. But whatever is decided, we’ll take it.”
For the schools joining the expanded Cedar Valley Conference, it’s an upgrade in competition. The Tri-Rivers and Big East currently are a mixture of Class 1A and Class 2A schools.
“To be honest, this is great for our kids,” said Cascade AD Chris Curry. “This will be a league of solid (Class) 2A schools. I’m glad we will get to compete against teams our size.”
The IDOE encourages both new leagues to split into two divisions.
The process began when Camanche sought entrance to the Cedar Valley Conference, and was denied.
Camanche was one of four schools – Bellevue, Northeast and Cedar Valley Christian are the others — listed as petitioners.
According to the decision, “The Department’s decision gives the Petitioner schools memberships into appropriate conferences and is least disruptive to the other affected schools.”
Greta said that neither she nor Glass would comment further on the decision.
“The decision stands on its own,” Greta said Tuesday morning, before the verdict was released.
Edgewood-Colesburg and Starmont will leave the Tri-Rivers for the Upper Iowa Conference in 2013. The UIC also will have 13 schools.
Alburnett, Bellevue, Bellevue Marquette, Big East Conference, Calamus-Wheatland, Camanche, Cascade, Cedar Valley Christian, Cedar Valley Conference, Central City, Clinton Prince of Peace, Durant, East Buchanan, Iowa City Regina, Lisbon, Maquoketa Valley, Mid-Prairie, Midland, Monticello, North Cedar, North Linn, Northeast, Preston, Springville, Tipton, Tri-Rivers Conference, Upper Iowa Conference, West Branch, West Liberty, Wilton