Six private schools announced plans Wednesday to leave the newly expanded Tri-Metro Conference, reflecting concern about the size discrepancy between schools.
Blake, Breck, Minnehaha Academy, Mounds Park Academy, Providence Academy and St. Paul Academy plan to leave the conference at the end of the 2013-14 school year. Their plan was made official on Wednesday at a meeting of conference athletic directors.
The Tri-Metro Conference ballooned to 16 teams last week when the Minnesota State High School League added Columbia Heights, Fridley and Holy Angels. Those three schools have enrollments in the range of 700 to 750 students, putting them among the largest in the conference.
“Our school evaluated the dynamics of the conference, with the number of schools in the league and the discrepancy in size between many of the schools, and we felt it was best to withdraw from the Tri-Metro,” said Providence Academy Athletic Director Kurt Jaeger. “When you looked at the top six schools in the league, they average about 640 students. The bottom 10 was about 340.”
Jaeger said scheduling was a key issue for the six schools, which also are the most expensive private schools in the league in terms in of tuition costs.
“With 16 schools in the conference, you have a hard time even having a single round of play among the schools in some sports,” he said. “Is it really a conference then?”
DeLaSalle Activities Director Darcy Cascaes acknowledged that scheduling between schools of such widely differing sizes was problematic but felt the conference had addressed those issues through hard work and creativity.
“When we learned of the placement of those three schools, we as ADs got together and talked about what a future schedule would look like,” Cascaes said. “We came up with something that allowed us some flexibility. It looked good on paper.”
Jaeger said that, for the near future at least, Providence Academy will maintain an independent schedule. He added that he hadn’t heard of any plans by the others that are leaving to form a new league.
“There really isn’t a clear path right now,” Jaeger said. “We felt it was in our best interest to remain independent.”
If those six schools were to form a new conference, it would be subject to a high school league bylaw that allows the league to place teams in their conference if the need arises.
The 10 schools that will remain in the Tri-Metro are Brooklyn Center, Columbia Heights, Concordia Academy, DeLaSalle, Fridley, Holy Angels, St. Agnes, St. Anthony, St. Croix Lutheran and Visitation, which competes in girls’ sports only. Those schools will meet Monday, Cascaes said, to address the latest round of conference changes.
“It’s been interesting, I’ll say that,” she said. “We’re going to have to get creative again.”