Big changes coming for school conferences


School conferences are becoming a numbers game.

On the heels of an announcement that Bishop Garrigan intends to leave the North Central Conference (NCC) and join the North Iowa Conference (NIC), Eagle Grove and Clarion-Goldfield are also considering a change which could spell the end of the 88-year-old NCC.

“Everyone is just trying to figure out what is going on and what will make the most sense,” said Dale Ludwig, activities director for Clear Lake Schools.

Ludwig was responding to a series of meetings held for NIC and Corn Bowl Conference schools interested in creating a “super conference.”  NCC members have also met, and will meet again this month to discuss how best to handle impending changes.  

Superintendents from the North Iowa Conference unanimously approved to add current NCC member Bishop Garrigan and North Union to the league’s roster on Nov. 26.  Final approval is dependent on two-thirds or more of the NIC school boards to make the same decision as the superintendents at meetings to be held this month.  With the addition of the two schools the NIC will grow to 10 teams.  Current NIC members are Belmond-Klemme, Forest City, Garner-Hayfield/Ventura, Lake Mills, Mason City Newman, North Iowa, Osage and West Hancock.  Once approved, Garrigan and North Union would join the NIC in the fall of 2014.

According to Ludwig, Clarion-Goldfield and Eagle Grove have been contacted about joining the NIC and helping that conference expand.  Both schools attended an informational meeting about the NIC in December and were scheduled to meet on Dec. 21 to discuss a 20-team super conference, but the meeting was postponed due to weather.  

“The NCC was not involved in that meeting,” added Ludwig.

“Everyone is just exploring options,” he continued.  “As for the NCC, we have met and will meet again next month as we always do.  Part of our meetings recently have been to discuss what is going on with all of this and how to best handle it.”

Meeting minutes show the Eagle Grove School Board has voted in favor of applying to the NIC.  

Eagle Grove’s enrollment of 179 in grades 9-11 ranks it ninth in terms of enrollment among NCC schools, according to statistics used by the Iowa High School Athletic Association.   Bishop Garrigan has the conference’s smallest enrollment with 131 students.

If a “super conference” plan is pursued,  the expansion of the NIC could also include the schools from the Corn Bowl Conference (West Fork, Riceville, North Butler, Northwood-Kensett, Central Springs, Rockford, Nashua-Plainfield and St. Ansgar).  The super conference would be comprised of 18 to 20 schools and have east and west divisions. 

Ludwig said it was too early to speculate about the future of the NCC and the possibility that its numbers could drop to seven if Eagle Grove and Clarion-Goldfield decide to leave. 

“ Garrigan informed us of their intent earlier this school year.  As for change, who knows?  We’ll have to wait and see.  It gives us more opportunity to get non-conference opponents,” said Ludwig.  “As for a replacement, the conference has been looking around for possible teams to join the conference.”


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