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August 28, 2013

KITCHELL: NCC not Non-Commital Conference

Shock waves of confer-ence realignment in Indiana are rippling tremors of unrest in what many consider the grandest of all Indiana high school conferences.

The North Central Conference, which includes Logansport among its charter members, has undergone more change in the past three months than it has in the past 50 years. It all started when conference members voted to invite Lafayette Jeff, which had been a member for 70 years before leaving 10 years ago, to rejoin the conference, along with two other Tippecanoe County schools, Harrison and McCutcheon. New Castle, the only school to vote against that move, then announced it was leaving the NCC for a smaller conference. Not to be outdone, the Huntington Vikings, who were desperate for a decent conference affiliation a decade ago, announced they too were leaving to join a conglomeration of suburban Fort Wayne schools.

All these changes leave the NCC with an odyssey – an odd number of teams, which is what most conference officials try to avoid. Simply put, it makes it difficult to schedule conference games because one school is always the odd man out on nights when conference games are played. This is particularly problematic for football, because only one game is scheduled a week and schedules are less flexible than in other sports.

So what should North Central Conference officials do? After the dust settles from fining New Castle $14,000 for its departure and rescheduling games that would have been played with the Trojans, something Muncie Central and Richmond have already done, officials have four possible courses of action:

1. Do nothing. Let the new conference play through this period with more of its original membership than it has had in the past 10 years. It’s possible a school board election in New Castle could change that community’s position on leaving the conference, a move that was not unanimous. Openings in the NCC are few and far between and if New Castle is to reconsider, the window for changing a decision may not be long. Conference officials may not want to wait until the next election to act. A natural candidate for a 10th NCC team is likely to emerge.

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