With membership being reduced by two after next school year ends, the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference remains proactive in ensuring stability.|
According to Rochelle principal and league president Travis McGuire, the NIB12 will move forward with 10 teams and alter its divisional format. The decision made last Friday has Rochelle moving from the east to west division starting next year.
The exodus of Dixon and Streator to the Big Northern and Interstate Eight conferences, respectively, starting in the 2014-15 school year require the change. Rochelle's movement means the NIB12 will have two five-team divisions.
"We looked at one 10-team conference, but because of the logistics of the transportation and size disparity, those factors came into play" of why the NIB12 kept two divisions, Geneseo athletic director Travis Mackey said. "It seemed like most people were in favor of keeping it split."
Mackey said the league has "talked about bringing other schools in" to increase membership back to 12 schools. However, the division shifting remains the only action the conference currently is taking.
McGuire said the NIB12 is not closing the door on expansion.
The changes, which would start in the fall, would keep traditional rivalries and enrollment equity. West Division members Geneseo, LaSalle-Peru, Ottawa, Rochelle and Sterling were former members of the North Central Illinois Conference and have an average enrollment of 1,074.
East Division schools DeKalb, Maple Park Kaneland, Morris, Sycamore and Yorkville formerly were members of the Western Sun Conference and average 1,360 students.
"Obviously, we'd like to see it where there's more teams involved, but the way conferences are moving, this is where we're at," Mackey said. "It's probably our best scenario."
Mackey said crossover format for baseball, basketball, football and volleyball will remain. Football would have two crossover games, meaning each team will need three nonconference dates.
Formed three years ago when members of the NCIC and Western Sun merged, the NIB12 could not escape the conference shifting that has dominated local and national sports.
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