The Nokomis High School Board determined after “heated and emotional debate” and by a 4-3 vote at a special meeting Monday night that its sports teams will not join the South Central Conference.
Nokomis was scheduled to join the SCC in all sports, starting during the 2012-13 school year, but after the other SCC schools denied Nokomis’ request to join the conference in all sports except football, it began considering other options.
Nokomis will now “look elsewhere,” according to a statement e-mailed to superintendents of SCC schools by Nokomis Superintendent Scott Doerr. The school likely will return to the Prairie State Conference.
Vandalia Superintendent Rich Well said it is “likely” either East Alton-Wood River or Roxana will be invited back to the conference. Both schools sent in letters of reapplication once rumors of Nokomis’ departure began.
Staunton, Nokomis and Gillespie high schools were to replace Roxana, EAWR and Marquette Catholic starting in the 2012-13 school year.
Now that Nokomis has dropped out, there are several scenarios, which will play themselves out over the next month or so. The biggest question being whether Gillespie decides to join Nokomis in leaving the SCC.
Well said he has not heard directly from anyone at Gillespie about that happening, but said speculation among SCC superintendents is that Gillespie will now re-evaluate its situation and come to a decision in the next couple weeks.
Gillespie would be one of the smallest schools in the SCC, now that Nokomis has left. If Gillespie also drops out, both Roxana and EAWR are expected to be invited back.
At the very least, Staunton will replace Marquette Catholic, which joined the Prairie State Conference.
The conference re-alignment became tricky after SCC superintendents voted to deny Nokomis’ request that it join the SCC in all sports except football and its request to play a modified conference schedule, which would have allowed Nokomis to play other schools similar in size, instead of SCC powerhouses.
“The thought is that (the SCC) would like to stay a 10-team conference (in football),” Well said. “That way, there is a guarantee of every football game (for each team), every week.”'
Without nine opponents, SCC schools would have to schedule one nonconference game per season, which would likely come against either a bigger school or a similarily-sized school that is hours away, Well said.
While the effects on football have been the primary topic of re-alignment, Nokomis’ departure has significant effects on the rest of the SCC’s sports, too.
In sports with divisions, Nokomis would have made the dividing line between East and West divisions more defined, with Vandalia, Greenville, Hillsboro, Nokomis and Pana in the East Division, and Carlinville, Gillespie, Litchfield, Southwestern and Staunton making up the West Division.
Without Nokomis, Litchfield would will stay in the East, meaning in sports with divisions, it would only play its geographical rivals – Staunton and Gillespie – once per season while playing unnatural rivals, like Vandalia, twice.
Well said changes in divisional play may be considered, pending the final outcome.
From Vandalia’s standpoint, Well said the ideal situation was for Nokomis to join the SCC, because that would ease the travel burden on Vandalia’s and Pana’s teams, while also giving each school in the conference a “community feel," rather than the metro feel of EAWR, Roxana and Marquette.
“We wanted schools that were in more rural communities like us,” Well said.