Glenbard North will not fill the Upstate Eight Conference’s future void.
Glenbard North athletic director Matt Bowser confirmed Monday the school informed the Upstate Eight and DuPage Valley conferences last week that it will remain part of the DVC at least through the 2015-16 school year.
Glenbard North officials listened to the UEC’s overtures in recent weeks but decided to remain in the DVC despite some concerns about the conference’s changing makeup, with large schools Metea Valley, Waubonsie Valley and Neuqua Valley hopping from the UEC to the DVC, effective the 2015-16 school year.
Bowser said he and principal John Mensik discussed the possibilities with coaches at the school, but deliberations did not reach the school board level.
Adding Glenbard North would have been a welcome solution for the UEC, both because of the strength of the Panthers’ athletic programs and because the UEC would love to restore an even number of members.
The UEC stands at 14 schools now, will move to 16 for the 2014-15 school year as West Aurora and Glenbard East come aboard, but then decline to 13 schools after the Indian Prairie district schools switch to the DVC in 2015-16.
Paul Pennington, Elgin athletic director and acting president of the UEC, said the conference is preparing to operate as a 13-team league if no alternatives to Glenbard North materialize.
“We’ve been meeting to determine scheduling either with 14, 16 or 13 schools, depending on how it played out, so there is preparation moving forward regardless of [Glenbard North’s decision],” Pennington said. “We’re prepared to move forward with 13 schools.”
The UEC is divided into the River and Valley divisions, currently with seven schools apiece. Lacking balance between divisions would be tricky but not unworkable, Pennington said.
“In terms of scheduling, you can make 13 work,” Pennington said. “That’s certainly better than six schools in a conference. It’s complex depending on what sport you’re taking about but it can be [done]. It’s just being flexible in rotating with other schools and other conferences, possibly.”
Bowser, meanwhile, said the UEC represented a strong option for Glenbard North but said the DVC remains the school’s best fit for the time being.
“It’s been challenging for the DuPage Valley Conference and the Upstate Eight Conference in the last several years with the conference alignment and schools changing conferences,” Bowser said. “I think everyone is looking for stability, and I think that the more that everyone communicates, like we have done, the better off we will be as conferences and really as an area with our athletics.”