TERRE HAUTE —
Western Indiana Conference principals are considering the possibility of absorbing the five remaining West Central Conference high schools within the next few years, multiple sources have confirmed.
The WIC already includes Wabash Valley schools West Vigo, Northview, Sullivan and South Vermillion among its seven members.
The Tribune-Star has learned that WIC principals have invited all five WCC principals to a meeting to discuss the matter on March 12.
Sullivan principal David Springer, who is serving as WIC president for the 2013-14 school year, thinks there’s a chance that WCC principals will make final decisions at this meeting.
“The principals of the WIC unanimously agreed to invite all five WCC schools in,” Springer said over the weekend. “Now whether or not they are all going to accept our invitation … we think they are. But we’ll find out on March 12 for sure.”
Springer said he plans to ask each WCC principal in attendance about his or her intentions.
“We want to invite them individually,” he noted, “even though they’ll all be sitting at the same table.”
If a merger does take place, there’s been speculation that a 12-school WIC would be split into two divisions to reduce travel expenses, particularly to locations as far east as Brown County and as far north as South Vermillion.
“That’s the talk, to cut down on travel, possibly having East-West or North-South divisions,” Springer confirmed. “I think there will definitely be some kind of division [if all five WCC schools agree on the merger].” Some of the superintendents,” he said, “want us to start saving on time, travel and money … two-hour trips during the school week, getting home at midnight. They want us to do something about that.”
Springer, who previously announced that he will be stepping down as Sullivan’s principal at the end of this school year, offered his opinion on how a 10-game football schedule could be handled among 12 schools.
“If you have an East and a West or a North and a South [divisions], whoever wins the East and whoever wins the West can play each other,” he suggested. “Maybe the second-place teams could cross over and play each other and third-place [teams] could cross over and play each other and etc.
“Schools like Sullivan, we want to keep [non-conference rival] Linton on our schedule. Some of the money makers that some of the schools have [that aren’t in the same conference] … you hate to lose everybody.”
Springer mentioned how other sports could be affected as well.
“Whether or not every school will play every school in some sports, that all has to be hammered out by the athletic directors,” he said. “We’re looking at possibly having more one-day tournaments. Wrestling can be done in one day and have all 12 teams there. Cross country can be done in one day. Track can maybe be done in a day and a half or a Friday night-Saturday type of format.”
For those unfamiliar with the West Central Conference, it formed in 1970 and eventually reached 10 members, mostly from Putnam, Morgan and Hendricks counties.
Charter WCC member South Putnam has captured three state championships — Class A football (1986) and Class 2A softball (2011 and 2012) — since 1970.
But the WCC has lost members over the years, including Edgewood and Owen Valley to the Western Indiana Conference in 1999, and it’s operating during the 2013-’14 school year with six schools.
One of those six, Monrovia, already announced that it will be exiting to join the Indiana Crossroads Conference for the 2014-15 seasons. That would leave South Putnam, Greencastle, Cloverdale, North Putnam and Cascade as the only remaining members.
Considering how difficult that would make determining conference champions in a variety of sports, at least two WCC principals publicly expressed hope that the WIC merger becomes reality.
“South Putnam is excited with the prospect of the potential of joining our two conferences,” South Putnam principal Kieth Puckett told the Tribune-Star. “We anxiously await the meeting with the WIC principals.”
“I always look at situations as opportunities and I think that would be a good opportunity for both conferences,” said Greencastle principal and WCC president Russ Hesler.
If approved, how soon could this merger be implemented?
Springer doubts athletic schedules accommodating the new alignment could be drawn up in time for the ’14-15 school year.
“We’re probably looking at two to three years, especially in football,” he said.