Kaneland has a new conference to call home beginning in the 2019-20 school year, but its stay in the newly formed Interstate Eight Conference might be a brief one.
During its meeting May 14 in Sugar Grove, the Kaneland District 302 Board of Education approved the high school’s membership in the Interstate Eight Conference for 2019-20.
The Knights will join familiar Northern Illinois Big 12 East rivals Morris and Sycamore, and Northern Illinois Big 12 West’s LaSalle-Peru, Ottawa and Rochelle, as well as Plano and Sandwich from the current Interstate Eight in the new-look Interstate Eight.
Like other teams in the conference, Kaneland will be allowed to participate in all athletic and nonathletic schedules, compete for conference titles and be a full voting member during conference meetings, except during any vote that pertains to Interstate Eight school membership decisions.
“It’s a one-year contract, and part of the stipulation with that is that they would let us know by [April 12, 2019], whether or not we would be available long term,” said Jill Maras, principal of Kaneland High School. “I did ask if they would continue those conversations and not wait until April 12 if they had enough information prior to then to make the offer, or let us know if an offer would not be coming.”
Maras met Thursday with representatives of the new conference to begin the process of putting the contract together.
“One of the big things [the conference] membership group is looking at is some kind of school size cap as well as distance of travel, and so once they get that solidified, we will be able to see what districts could even be considered for full-time membership and would help us quickly to see if we would be in that ballpark or if anyone else is in the ballpark.”
Previously, it appeared as if Kaneland had another option with the Northern Illinois Conference (NIC-10), but it recently was learned that that league would not be offering Kaneland a contract.
“They shared [that] they believed it wasn’t a good fit,” Maras said.
Board member Pedro Rivas is worried that Kaneland ultimately could be left without a conference after 2020.
“Not that we have a choice [now], but my concern is with school sizes and we’re going to be left out in the cold,” he said. “We’re out and then who do we hook up with? What other conference will there be?”
Maras acknowledged her concern and explained that there are difficulties associated with the dissolution of conferences and forming of others while also trying to find the right fit.
“We feel confident at least in having a one-year extension,” she said. “It’s hard getting into a conference with just a year left, so this gives us some time to continue these conversations, and there are some rumors of other movements that we’re keeping our pulse on.”
In other athletics news, Kaneland approved the hiring of Dave Rohlman as its new athletic director. Rohlman previously competed against the Knights during his nine-year tenure as the DeKalb boys basketball coach. Rohlman will replace Peter Goff, who coincidentally is going to DeKalb to be the Barbs’ new athletic director.