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11/27/2012 10:45:00 PM
Dwight leaving I-8 Conference
Jim Sheldon
Staff Writer

Teams switching conferences has become the norm in the NCAA with Maryland and Rutgers joining the Big Ten in the last week. The changes at the collegiate level are mainly money-driven though.

Conference changes don't happen very often at the high school level but one is coming to the Interstate Eight Conference in 2014.

The Dwight Board of Education voted 4-1 at Monday's meeting to accept the Sangamon Valley Conference's invitation to join the conference starting with the 2014-2015 school year.

Dwight, along with Wilmington, Coal City, Reed-Custer, Plano, Sandwich, Seneca, Marseilles and Yorkville made up the original I-8 which came into existence in 1979.

Marseilles left in 1985 and Yorkville followed in 1991.

In 1992, the conference added Lisle. In 2001, Manteno and Peotone joined and the last change occurred in 2006 when Westmont and Herscher joined.

"This was a very tough decision for us. Ultimately, it came down to making a knowledgeable decision with the best interest of our future students in mind," said Dwight High School principal Dan Kaiser.

Dwight had put in an application to join the SVC back in October, but they were initially rejected along with Monticello and Tolono Unity.

On Oct. 31, Dwight received an invitation to join after St. Joseph-Ogden and St. Thomas More left the SVC to join the Okaw Valley Conference.

This left the conference with only five football schools in Clifton Central, Watseka, Momence, Paxton-Buckley-Loda and Iroquois West.

"I understand that the administration and school board need to do what is best for Dwight High School students not only right now, but also in the future," said Coal City High School principal Mitch Hamann.

"Given their current enrollment numbers, it looks like a move that should probably benefit their students. We will miss them. This is my 27th year in Coal City and they have been a part of the conference since I've been here."

Wilmington High School principal Kevin Feeney said that losing a school like Dwight hurts the conference.

"It's disappointing for the conference to lose a school that's been around for a long time, has a lot of tradition and has been a good school athletically and academically. They will be tough to replace."

Hamann says Coal City and Dwight will try to schedule many nonconference games in a variety of sports to continue the rivalry.

He also added that the conference has a variety of options to explore.

"We knew this was on the table. Every school needs to figure out what their school board wants to do. One thing we want to do as a conference is have a plan in place by January for what our next step is," said Hamann.

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