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UPDATE: BRC won't be dragged into football realignment issue

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River Falls, 54022

River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

A proposal by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) to bring the Big Rivers Conference, Wisconsin Valley Conference and Mississippi Valley Conference together under one football umbrella has fizzled.

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River Falls High School Activities Director Rollie Hall said he received a letter from the WIAA Wednesday informing him the association will no longer pursue the plan. The proposal was expected to go before the WIAA Board of Control in March.

Hall called the plan, which would have split River Falls and Hudson into two separate conferences, "a dead issue."

Under the proposal, the 20 schools in the three existing conferences would be placed into two, 10-team conferences based on enrollment. It would have been for football only and could have been implemented as early as 2010.

"It is still possible the schools themselves could petition to do it, but I doubt that will happen," Hall said.

Under the proposal, Hudson (enrollment 1,710) would have joined Stevens Point (2,414), Wisconsin Rapids (2,024), Schofield D.C. Everest (1,838), Eau Claire Memorial (1,762), Wausau West (1,696), Superior (1,606), Chippewa Falls (1,586), Eau Claire North (1,507) and Marshfield (1,359) in one conference.

River Falls (1,073), La Crosse Central (1,312), Wausau East (1,266), Tomah (1,084), La Crosse Logan (1.082), Menomonie (1,059), Holmen (1,053), Onalaska (921), Sparta (907) and either Rice Lake (826) or La Crosse Aquinas (353) would have made up the other conference.

The action was being considered because Merrill (1,135), Antigo (1,022) and Rhinelander (1,069) have all left the Wisconsin Valley Conference over the past two years, leaving the WVC with just six teams.

The Big Rivers Conference is the only one of the three conferences involved that currently does not have a scheduling problem. With eight teams, the BRC only needs to find nonconference games for the first two weeks of the season. The Mississippi Valley is a seven-team conference, and the Wisconsin Valley now has six, meaning they have to scramble to find nonconference games after week two, when most other teams are in conference play.

Under the proposal, each team would have played nine conference games and zero nonconference games. That would mean traditional rivalries such as River Falls and Hudson would cease to exist.

Hall said there are plenty of other reasons to object to the plan.

"I know the athletic directors are against it because of the increased mileage," he said. "Every other year we'd play at Menomonie, and that would be our closest game. That means every other year, when we don't play at Menomonie, our closest game would be in La Crosse. And we wouldn't play a game we've been playing for 60 years 10 miles down the road."

In addition to the increased traveling costs, Hall said the school would also lose revenue by not hosting Hudson every other year.

"Hudson is not only 10 miles away, but it's a fantastic game every year," he said. "The crowds are huge. In know in the six years I've been here, if you looked at it strictly from a financial point, our three home games against Hudson have been the biggest revenue makers, by far. And I'm guessing it's the same way in Hudson."

The realignment would also have created logistical headaches for freshmen and junior varsity teams that normally play on weekday afternoons.

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