Marines may be leaving Bay
Plan would end M&M Game after next year
Monday, September 30, 2013 7:00 PM
STEVENS POINT, Wis. - If a WIAA plan is implemented, Marinette will be taken out of the Bay Conference and placed in a realigned 10-team Eastern Valley Conference.
The proposed realignment would occur for the 2015-'16 season.
If approved, Marinette would be in a 10-team conference and there would be no M&M Game after the 2014 season.
Deb Hauser, WIAA associate director, presented the plan at a regional meeting Wednesday at Fox Valley Lutheran High School.
Hauser will finalize the realignment plan and present it to school officials on Oct. 11. She will seek approval from the WIAA Board of Control on Dec. 6.
The Eastern Valley would include four existing Bay Conference schools - Marinette, Denmark, Luxemburg-Casco and Oconto Falls - as well as Clintonville, Fox Valley Lutheran, Freedom, Little Chute, Wrightstown and either Waupaca or Appleton Xavier.
It would mean longer trips for Marine sports teams than they currently take in the Bay. Waupaca is about 125 miles southwest of Marinette.
Marinette activities director Kurt Gundlach chose to withhold comment until after the Oct. 11 meeting.
Green Bay West and Green Bay East have asked to be removed from the Fox River Classic Conference because they struggle to remain competitive in sports.
New Holstein has asked to be removed from the Eastern Wisconsin Conference.
"This started from requests from many schools in that particular area," Hauser said of her realignment plan. "It started with Green Bay East and West, and Hortonville and Menasha. That kind of started the wagon rolling. It wasn't just football that drove this one."
On Oct. 23, the WIAA will vote on a plan to replace Hortonville with Menasha in the Bay. That would go into effect for the 2014-'15 school year.
"Your area of the state is seeing significant trends in enrollment," Hauser said. "Those who are growing are growing rapidly."
On the flip side, schools such as Marinette have seen a steady enrollment decline. Marinette had an enrollment over 1,000 less than two decades ago but now is down to 625. West De Pere, which not too many years ago was significantly smaller than Marinette High School, is up to 816.
Hauser is aware of the tradition affiliated with the M&M Game, the third oldest interstate rivalry in the nation dating back to 1894.
"You try to consider as many things as you can," Hauser said. "I would say that was down on the list of priorities."
Hauser is still working on the details of her plan. Waupaca and Xavier are being considered for the new Bay, though she is leaning toward Xavier.
"I gave myself till Oct. 11," she said. "There's always options. The problem is you just don't know what the trickle effect will have on the other teams in that group."