Football-only conference realignment proposal introduced

Changes may be coming to prep football conferences in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Football Coaches Association, handed the task last winter by the WIAA, released its football-only conference realignment plan last week. The proposal, which if passed ...

Changes may be coming to prep football conferences in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Football Coaches Association, handed the task last winter by the WIAA, released its football-only conference realignment plan last week.

The proposal, which if passed would go into effect for the 2020 season, would see significant shakeup of conferences both locally and statewide. The plan would see 18 percent of the state's 11-man programs playing in a different conference.

The main goals of the ad hoc committee were developing a plan that brings uniformity to the number of teams in conferences statewide and has all teams playing seven conference games for playoff qualification.

Most conferences will have eight teams under the proposal. Those with seven would be paired with a "sister conference" for crossover games that would count in the conference standings.


"Unfortunately, there's no perfect solution," Superior High School coach Bob DeMeyer said. "I commend the WIAA and the WFCA for trying to work things out for the majority. It's been a long process, there's been a lot of discussion and it sounds like this plan is helping other conferences and individual schools considerably.

Under the plan, River Falls would leave the Big Rivers Conference, which includes Superior, for the Mississippi Valley Conference, in the La Crosse area. Replacing River Falls would be New Richmond, which has nearly double the enrollment of every other school in its current conference, the Middle Border.

"The impact on the BRC is minimal, with the exception of New Richmond replacing River Falls," DeMeyer said. "I certainly can empathize with River Falls and understand its concerns when it comes to travel.

"If we could ask for a perfect situation, both schools would be in, add one more and none of us would be scrambling trying to find non-conference games."

Superior has always had trouble finding non-conference opponents and that won't change 2020.

The Spartans open the 2018 season playing Oshkosh North on Aug. 17 in Stanley Boyd. Their second non-conference game is Aug. 24 at Somerset.

As for the Heart O'North Conference, which is adding Cameron and St. Croix Falls in 2019 in already approved moves, Hayward will leave for the Great Northern Conference and Ladysmith is headed to the Lakeland Conference

"We have a long history with Hayward and Ladysmith, but if the WIAA feels this change is better for the sport, we'll play whatever teams they put on our schedule," Northwestern High School coach Jovin Kroll said. "While Cameron is a growing community with great facilities and a desire to be in the HON, St. Croix Falls will be a bit of a drive, but so is Ladysmith."


Travel will still be an issue with the new Lakeland Conference, which will include Hurley on the Michigan border and Grantsburg near the Minnesota border.

"SCF is a very successful program in the Lakeland Conference and will be a good addition," Kroll said. "We'll see how the chips fall. Right now, we're focusing on 2018 and we will see how the WIAA sets things for the future, but we are thankful to remain part of the HON."

Northwestern's non-conference games this year are against Ashland and Osceola.

With the addition of Cameron and SCF, the Tigers are not scheduled to play Ashland in 2019. If the new plan is adopted, the series could resume in 2020. A second non-conference game could also be with Hayward.

"I don't really know what will happen with the non-conference games," Kroll said. "If the conference returns to eight teams in 2020, we'll still need to schedule two non-conference games just like now.

"I imagine we will keep the Ashland rivalry going after it takes one year off, but the other game could be anyone, just like now."

There would be a process for schools to request review and relief from their designated conference every two seasons. The WIAA Board of Control would have final say on all realignment matters.

The WIAA will seek input from member schools and administrators over the coming months, including at the fall area meetings in September. The WIAA has final authority to change or adjust the plan and will determine when it will be presented to the Board of Control for final approval.


According to the WFCA release, this could happen this fall or in January.

Proposed Conference Changes

Big Rivers Conference

Hudson 1,791

Eau Claire Mem. 1,724

Chippewa Falls 1,482

Eau Claire North 1,363

Superior 1,305


Menomonie 973

*New Richmond 939

Rice Lake 744

Heart O' North Conference

Barron 419

Northwestern 416

Bloomer 386

Spooner 362


*St. Croix Falls 308

Cumberland 288

*Cameron 270

Chetek-Weyerhaeuser 247

Great Northern Conference

Merrill 802

Rhinelander 781

Antigo 777


Lakeland 711

Ashland 674

Medford 639

Mosinee 626

*Hayward/LCO 607

Middle Border Conference

Osceola 521

Ellsworth 477

Baldwin-Woodville 471

Somerset 463

Amery 461

St. Croix Central 434

Prescott 399

Lakeland Conference

*Rib Lake/Prentice 287

*Ladysmith 279

Grantsburg 258

Unity 255

Lake Holcombe/Cornell 215

Webster 204

Hurley 170

Flambeau 165

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