Both Reedsburg and Baraboo have balked at the WIAA Board of Control’s Badger Conference’s realignment plan.
Sun Prairie has requested to have two high schools — Sun Prairie East and Sun Prairie West join the Badger Conference in the fall 2022. Reedsburg and Baraboo would shift to the Mississippi Valley Conference in the La Crosse-area, where the closest round-trip is 120 miles to Tomah. Baraboo has rejected the WIAA’s realignment plan and lobbied to remain in the Badger Conference.
The Baraboo school board met for a second time on Monday, Feb. 8, to discuss the realignment plan. Board member Sean McNevin told the Baraboo News Republic about the school district’s frustration.
“I get that there might be legal precedent that doesn’t allow us an easy path to victory to get what we want, but I also get that we’ve got a responsibility to keep our kids, our parents and other school districts like us from being bullied,” McNevin said Monday. “If we lose and we don’t prevail, it doesn’t mean we didn’t win, because it may cause them to reassess, change and step back and do things better in the future, so that somebody else doesn’t have to go through what we’re going through.”
The WIAA is scheduled to vote on the realignment plan for football only on March 5.
“I think part of their fear with Reedsburg and Baraboo is losing those rivalries they have had for a long time and losing some comparable-sized schools,” Stoughton football coach Jason Becker said. “When we started out the purpose of this was to prevent constant change and turnover in the conferences. My fear with all of this is this is doing the opposite of the initial plan and creating a revolving door of change.”
Becker questioned in two to five years if both Sun Prairie East and West would then move back to the Big Eight.
“My biggest concern ultimately still is the projected growth in Sun Prairie is well documented and projected and is that playing a role in this,” he said. “I want the WIAA to make a decision that is the best for all; not what is best for one or two schools.”
Portage has been working on developing a south-side plan to reorganize the Badger and Big Eight Conferences. The Badger Conference was scheduled to unveil a Badger Small and Large Conference split for football this fall before COVID-19 wiped out the season and pushed many schools to move seasons back to the alternative fall season this spring.
Both Janesville Craig and Janesville Parker were scheduled to play in the Badger Large Conference this season. Under the WIAA’s realignment plan, both Janesville schools would be moved back to the Big EIght.
Whether the WIAA votes to approve a football-only realignment plan in March isuncertian. But if an alternative plan is discussed, the timeline for implementing a plan could face a tight window to be set for the 2022 season.
Many schools schedule games a year in advance.
“I just want some consistency to know who we are playing for my coaching staff and myself in preparing gameplans,” Becker said.
Becker said whatever realignment plan that is approved, he hopes its a long-term fix and not a short-term solution.