The Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference will add Pike and Lawrence Central for the 2014-15 school year, replacing Terre Haute North and Terre Haute South to form an eight-team league made up of Indianapolis-area high schools.
The MIC principals took a formal vote Thursday night to accept Pike and Lawrence Central, both members of Conference Indiana since 1997-98. "Those two schools at this time were a good fit and they felt like they were a good fit," said Carmel principal John Williams, the head of the MIC this year. "It's not like we are strangers with those schools. We play them in most of our sports anyway." The other six members of the MIC are Ben Davis, Carmel, Center Grove, Lawrence North, North Central and Warren Central. The conference was originally established in 1996. "I'd heard people ask why Pike and Lawrence Central weren't in the MIC even back to 2003 when I was coaching cross-country," Lawrence Central principal Rocky Valadez said. "When it came down to the end of the day for us, from a competitive standpoint and from a travel standpoint, it made too much sense not to do it." The league sent out letters of inquiry late in the summer to 10 or 11 schools in the area to gauge interest in joining the MIC. One that was interested was Cathedral. Williams said Cathedral was not put to a formal vote but the league decided it wouldn't be a good fit at this time. "We felt honored that we were considered," Cathedral principal Dave Worland said. "That in itself was a good sign. Cathedral has always liked its independence but this gave us a chance to consider some of the possibilities of being in a conference. I think down the road, if there are other openings in the MIC, we would be considered again. We'll continue to compete against a lot of the MIC schools and continue those relationships." A number of area schools in the Hoosier Crossroads Conference were also contacted. The 10-team league claimed solidarity in early October, releasing a statement that none of its schools had applied for membership in another conference. However, Williams didn't rule out further expansion. "When we started this process, it generated lots of discussion," he said. "And there will certainly continue to be discussion about the possibilities. There are schools in the area that are similar to the schools we have in the MIC. When you talk about budgets and travel, there are advantages to having those area schools in the same conference. I know the principals in the MIC are open to having further discussions." There is also a likely ripple effect from Pike and Lawrence Central leaving Conference Indiana. Roncalli athletic director Dave Toner said the school hasn't been contacted by Conference Indiana but would have interest should the phone call come. Conference Indiana would be left with six schools: Bloomington North, Bloomington South, Columbus North, Franklin Central, Perry Meridian and Southport. "In terms of potential interest, we would take a very serious look at it," Toner said. Conference Indiana president Jeff Hester, the athletic director at Columbus North, said the conference would like to add two replacement schools "sooner than later." Columbus East, a member of the Hoosier Hills Conference, was contacted but did not have interest. It is likely that Conference Indiana could look to the Mid-State Conference for possibilities. The Mid-State includes Decatur Central, Franklin, Greenwood, Martinsville, Mooresville, Plainfield and Whiteland. "This is the first time we've been associated with having to replace teams, but we're trying to move as quickly as possible," Hester said. Lawrence Central and Pike will bring considerable heft to the already powerful MIC. Pike won boys basketball state titles in 1998, 2001 and '03, was state runner-up in '02 and last season, and has been strongly represented in many other sports, including football. Lawrence Central has been similarly successful, led by a football program that was the Class 5A runner-up in 2010 under Mr. Football Tre Roberson and is ranked No. 1 and undefeated this year. In a coincidental twist, Lawrence Central will host Pike in a Class 5A football regional tonight. "Great timing," Valadez said. "Good for Conference Indiana and I think good for the MIC too."