Conference picture is a little blurry

With the number of member schools expected to be cut in half for the 2014-15 season, activities directors from New Prague, Northfield, Red Wing and Holy Angels met earlier this month to discuss the future of the Missota Conference.

Farmington has been admitted to the South Suburban Conference for the fall of 2014, pending approval of its school board, and Shakopee is expected to follow suit. Meanwhile, Chanhassen and Chaska have renewed their efforts to form a new conference with schools from the southwestern suburbs.

New Prague Activities Director Brad Skogerboe said the meeting was more of an informational meeting.

What route will be taken hinges on what happens with Chaska and Chanhassen. They have been working with five other schools to form a conference covering the western suburbs. Those schools are believed to be Bloomington Jefferson and Bloomington Kennedy, St. Louis Park, Robbinsdale Cooper and Richfield. That conference could start as early as the fall of 2014 with seven or eight members, Skogerboe said.

With the Missota’s uncertain future, Red Wing has asked the Big Nine Conference for an application. However, they have not formally made that application. Red Wing was a charter member of the Big Nine, but left for the Missota in the 1980s.

Skogerboe also met with his coaching staff Wednesday, Jan. 9. He updated them on what’s been happening and gave them a chance to offer their views. He said he has also been keeping the administration and school board informed on the situation.

“We’re not looking for a temporary fix,” he said. “We would like to be in a stable conference, one that is not going through this every few years,” he said.

Skogerboe said the big question that needs to be decided is whether New Prague sees itself as a Metro school.

“Would it serve our kids and activities better to be part of a metropolitan conference, or is there something else we need to look at.”

Skogerboe said there are several possibilities for New Prague:

• The four remaining Missota schools recruit new members to the conference. Several schools from the Wright County and Classic Suburban conferences were identified as possible matches, and some schools had already contacted the conference.

• New Prague, Northfield and Red Wing might apply to the Big 9 Conference, which includes schools as close as Faribault and Mankato and as far away as Winona. Skogerboe said one drawback is the conference by-laws in the Big Nine require a unanimous vote of current members to admit a new member.

• New Prague could apply to become part of the new conference forming with Chaska and Chanhassen.

• The final scenario, a “worst-case” scenario would find New Prague orphaned. If the Missota disbands, and if three conferences reject an application from New Prague, the school could petition the Minnesota State High School League to assign them to a conference.

Missota Conference bylaws require schools to notify the conference before September 1 if they will be leaving the following year.

“With that in mind,” he concluded, “we would like to have everything settled by this fall.”