With Dukes, Bulldogs out, conference braintrust elects for smaller divisions
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Within the last decade of Kaneland athletics, the Knights have called several landscapes home.
Once able to call the sprawling Suburban Prairie Conference North Division home, the Knights moved to the new Western Sun Conference.
After four years, a new set-up emerged for the fall of 2010 in the form of the two-division Northern Illinois Big XII.
Beginning in the fall of 2014, the Knights will still be able to call the conference home, but the ambiance will be a tad different.
Dixon and Streator officially elected to vacate the conference at the end of the 2013-14 academic year, following a meeting of conference principals.
The conference’s athletic directors had previously met in early March to discuss proposals and forward them to the principals.
Dixon, with an enrollment of 803 students, has elected to move to the Big Northern Conference, after originally joining the NIB-12 from the defunct NCIC.
Streator, at 876 students, mulled several options as the southernmost school in the school grouping. It was invited to join the Interstate Eight Conference in February.
Both schools came from the West Division, meaning conference shuffling or addition had to take place.
The March 15 meeting of the conference Board of Controls put in motion the switch to a 10-team conference with two five-team divisions.
The larger East consists of DeKalb, Kaneland, Rochelle, Sycamore and Yorkville, while West play features Geneseo, LaSalle-Peru, Ottawa, Rochelle and Sterling.
“Our attempt is to ensure the competitive and long-term health of the Northern Illinois Big XII conference,” Rochelle principal and conference president Travis McGuire said. “All topics, avenues, and positions were discussed and contemplated through this process. We will continue to look to expand our conference as we move forward.”
The new alignment becomes the lay of the land for football, with proposals still to be had for the other sports for conference crossover play.
Football’s schedule situation would involve the standard two crossover games, meaning the 2014 schedule would feature three non-conference games.
Kaneland football would have to secure three season-opening foes in 2014, with Chicago’s Brooks Prep and Elmhurst’s Immaculate Conception signed to one-year deals for 2013.
“In football, it’s such a big deal to play schools your own size and to get non-conference teams to play you,” KHS football coach Tom Fedderly said. “I think they were listening to ideas and were looking for teams to come in. Maybe one day, smaller schools can come into the conference. We’ll see what happens later with sports like basketball.”