Already faced with losing member schools, the North Suburban Conference is short on scheduling options.
With Chisago Lakes, North Branch and St. Francis moving to the Mississippi 8 Conference in 2013-14, the remaining eight North Suburban schools had hoped to form a scheduling partnership in all sports with the Classic Suburban Conference.
Totino-Grace activities director Mike Smith said those talks "didn't catch on like we had hoped. We had been talking about it for a long time so in our minds it was a good thing. For them it was a new idea, and they are more content where they are than we are."
Next season, the North Suburban will have only six football teams. Columbia Heights, the conference's only Class 3A football team, will again play an independent schedule. Class 5A state champ Totino-Grace will stay with the larger schools in the Northwest Suburban Conference.
In addition, Smith said, as many as three schools are "looking to do something different, and then we're potentially down to five schools in the conference. That's not good."
Smith called the future of the conference the "longest discussion item" at last week's conference activities directors meeting. The group hopes to have a plan in place by Sept. 1.
"After next year, almost everyone you ask will shrug their shoulders and tell you they are not sure what's going to happen," Smith said. "We're trying to be proactive, but it's hard. Somebody needs to make that first move and then all the other chips will line up."
David La Vaque - 612-673-7574