Conference guru: Prepare to be shocked

The recent news of Lake Park leaving the Upstate Eight Conference next year for the DuPage Valley Conference created an opening for the UEC, but Dave Schmidt says the musical chairs affecting area conferences are unlikely to stop there.

Schmidt, founder of the Senior Reports – theseniorreports.com – is a guru when it comes to conference movement at the high school and small college level. The Rockford area radio broadcaster said Illinois projects as the most active state in the country right now when it comes to conference changes, and the far west suburbs figure to be part of that mix.

"I think you might see a couple of changes that will probably shock everyone," Schmidt said.

Schmidt can't delve too deeply into specifics – he joked that schools are more secretive about athletic conference decisions than major curriculum changes – but among the dynamics to watch are whether the UEC could poach any schools from the Northern Illinois Big 12, whether the Fox Valley Conference might pursue Elgin area UEC schools and whether another school in addition to West Chicago might be on the way out of the DVC.

In each case, potential ripple effects abound.

The Northern Illinois Big 12, a two-division, 12-team conference which Kaneland helped launch in 2010, will need to replenish its ranks once Dixon, at a minimum, defects. Possible conference movement around the Belvidere/Rockford area could come into play there.

"When you go to these big conferences, more schools, more problems," Schmidt said. "I don't mean that [in a nasty way], I'm just saying more people bring in more issues."

The UEC has indicated it would prefer a large-enrollment school it could slot into the Valley Division to replace Lake Park, but other options are on the table. In a news release earlier this month, Batavia principal and conference president Lisa Hichens requested contacts from interested schools by Nov. 1.

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