The Northern Indiana Conference announced that it will be expanding from 9 teams to 13 teams for the 2015-16 school year. The current members of the conference voted unanimously to include Jimtown, Bremen, New Prairie, and Glenn in the NIC.
“I think this is a great opportunity for the NIC to grow,” Elkhart Central athletic director Brian Buckley said. “I think this is a great opportunity for all of our sports to have a more cohesive schedule, a little less travel, build up some new relationships. I think it is a real good thing.”
The 13 team conference will be the largest in the state of Indiana. The preliminary plan is for the conference to be broken in to two divisions. One idea is to have the smaller schools in one division and the bigger schools, like Penn and Mishawaka, in another. Officials are confident that they will have this kind of set up for football, but no decisions had been made on how other sports would be handled.
Officials haven’t worked out all of the details in regards to who will play who in what sports but the idea is to keep rivalries alive while building new ones.
“I think this is an opportunity for our kids to one, maybe re-spark some of those old rivalries,” Buckley said. “You know, back when Jimtown and Elkhart used to play all the time in different events. It is also time to get some new rivalries. We [Elkhart Central] have not played John Glenn much. We have not played Bremen much. We swim against them, we do a couple of things against them but this is going to be a good opportunity for Elkhart Central and the other 12 NIC schools to form some new relationships.”
The expansion of the NIC has been in the works for over half of a year now. Last fall the Northern State Conference saw half of its members leave to form a new conference. That left Jimtown, Bremen, New Prairie, and Glenn looking for a new conference. Then during the football season an idea was born that would be mutually beneficial for those four teams and the NIC.
After several meetings between athletic directors, school boards, and principals the schools eventually voted unanimously to expand the conference.
“This really makes sense,” Buckley said. “You are going to have some new schools in the conference, you are going to have getting to have kids do a lot of different things, travel to some closer schools. It just makes good sense for kids.”