Mid-Con finds itself on its knees



After an unsuccessful attempt to join the Missouri Valley Conference, NIU athletics is faced with another conference dilemma.

NIU is currently a member of the Mid-Continent Conference in every sport except football, which recently finished its inaugural season in the Big West Conference.

Now the Mid-Con is in serious trouble.

Four schools in the conference have recently committed to leave and will join the Midwestern Collegiate Conference.

Wright State, Cleveland State, Wisconsin-Green Bay, and Wisconsin-Milwaukee are the four schools that plan to leave.

In an attempt to strengthen NIU’s athletics, members of the Athletic Department have been seeking another conference with more national recognition.

A major goal is to find a conference that offers the top team a bid to the NCAA tournaments in every sport.

The Mid-Con just recently expanded to ten teams with the addition of Wisconsin-Milwaukee at the beginning of this year, and now has to deal with the reality of six schools remaining.

Sources say the Athletic Board will have to look very seriously at the MCC, and that the Mid-Con will have a hard time surviving with only six schools.

A decision to leave the conference will result in a substantial fee, possibly exceeding $100,000, and added to that will be another fee to join whatever conference NIU decides upon.

If NIU doesn’t leave the Mid-Con soon, the only members for next year will be Illinois-Chicago, Eastern Illinois, Western Illinois, Valparaiso, and Youngstown State, if one of those schools does not try to find a new home.

Within the next two weeks the Athletic Board will meet to decide where NIU stands, and if there is a conference that will accept the school.

Considering a move was attempted just a few months ago, NIU athletic board members will most likely vote to leave the Mid-Con and join another conference.

Because of the urgency of the matter, NIU will probably end up in the MCC, which will be a stronger conference than the Mid-Con anyway.

Like the Big West is for the football program, the Mid-Con was considered to be a stepping stone for a building athletic program.

A move to the MCC is a step in the right direction, but it won’t be what the athletic program needs. The bid for the Missouri Valley, which was denied in favor of Evansville, was pursued with the intent to stay in the conference for a long time.

Signing a contract with the MCC could set back the goals of the athletic program by at least five years.