On April 16th of this year, the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) board unanimously approved the recommendations of the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) to “realign” the high school football conferences in Wisconsin.
“Realignment” is the word being used to describe changing the membership of each of the state’s 45 football conferences. These changes affect only football–meaning the conferences for other sports will include different schools. Todd Clark, Director of Communications for the WIAA explained the reasoning behind the realignment:
The objective of the plan is to bring uniformity to the number of schools affiliated with a conference and to make certain programs have enough conference games for playoff qualification, as well as to provide a process for schools to request relief from its conference affiliation. In addition, it applies to football because it is the only sponsored sport that doesn’t include all the schools in the tournament, only the top 224.
Lodi will be part of what the proposal form lists as the “Capitol Large” conference. These names are not final, and will be decided by the member schools. A full listing of the new conferences can be downloaded from our site (PDF)
The teams will include:
- Big Foot
- Lake Mills
- Watertown Luther Prep
- Lakeside Lutheran
The new conferences will be in place for the 2020 football season. The WIAA is currently accepting proposals for realignment of conferences for other (all) sports. The deadline for proposals is Dec 1st of this year, and the final vote will take place in April of 2020. The full timeline can be viewed on the WIAA website.
9-0 But Not 100%
While the 9-0 vote by the WIAA board was unanimous, there were significant issues presented by the member schools which are affected by the realignment. 15 schools filed concerns or appeals which were presented to the board.
For example: Craig Olson, superintendent of Hayward School District expressed concerns about the exceedingly long trips required for some of their games. They share a conference with Antigo–which is a 350-mile, 6-hour round trip. Taking a school bus across northern Wisconsin in the winter presents serious issues for budget and safety.
Other schools represented at the final board meeting expressed similar concerns regarding travel and having to play against teams which, in their estimation, don’t fit well. This included the odd situation of Upper Peninsula (Michigan) schools being included in the Wisconsin conferences. More than one school indicated that the affects of the realignment could be severe enough that they might choose to end their football programs.
As the process begins for realignment of conferences for the remaining sports across the state, these concerns may become a larger issue.
A Lodi native, Blaze attended the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay where he graduated with a degree in theatre technology & design. He has traveled extensively throughout the United States and the world–including a 6-year stint in China. He has been a teacher, a writer, a designer, and is the founder of the Redleaf Consulting Group.