The dominoes will fall soon enough when it comes to the make-up of metro area high school conferences.
But for now, the Northwest Suburban Conference has decided to wait for the first to tumble.
The league announced last week that applications to join the 11-school conference from Spring Lake Park, Irondale and Totino-Grace were each individually denied by current school administrators.
All three were former members of the soon-to-be defunct North Suburban Conference, which will officially fold following the 2013-14 school year.
Minnesota State High School League bylaws require each of the schools rendered homeless by the North Suburban’s decision to apply to at least three separate conferences before the MSHSL would place them.
Those three schools chose to give the Northwest Suburban Conference a try, but after careful consideration during a lengthy meeting April 25, the league decided to hold steady with the make-up it currently has.
“I can only speak for Champlin Park and the Anoka-Hennepin district, but we didn’t know if going to a 12 or 13 or 14-school conference was viable,” said Champlin Park activities director Matt Mattson. “In many ways, those schools fit in with us okay. But for some conference schools, I don’t think there was a fit.”
NWSC bylaws state that of the 11 schools in the conference, nine must vote yes for a school to be added.
None of the three applicants received enough support in the vote.
“We looked at each one of these schools individually, and that is how the decision was made at this time,” said Robbinsdale Armstrong activities director Patti Weldon. “Those three schools did not look like us enough to have it be a good fit.”
Of the concerns that were raised was the number of athletic teams each school fields in correlation to the rest of the conference. For instance, most of the NWSC school have as many as five levels of basektball. Totino-Grace, which has an official MSHSL enrollment of 802 students, was unable to meet that requirement.
Another factor was the NWSC music festival, which requires each participating school to serve as a host.
“We talked about the number of levels for each school, and in the arts, we wanted to know if they were able to host those big events,” said Mattson.
The decision to not accept these three schools could eventually be altered by the MSHSL.
A 90-day window of the application process will close in July. The MSHSL could then step in and place those schools into any conference, the NWSC included.
Currently, Totino-Grace has one year remaining in a two-year agreement to play football under the NWSC umbrella. That forced the conference to form two divisions last fall, and crown two separate champions.
It wasn’t ideal, said both Mattson and Weldon. But should the MSHSL add a school or even three to the current format, the divisional separation in the conference would likely be included for all activities.
“A lot will likely still happen,” said Weldon. “If it comes to the point where schools begin to get placed, maybe there is unhappiness around the conferences and other schools end up applying to us…This isn’t over, far from it actually.”
Contact Nick Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org