By JOSH SIGLER KOKOMO TRIBUNE
---- — For the first time in over a decade, the Mid-Indiana Conference appears to be receiving a facelift.
Taylor High School athletic director Karen Franklin announced early Wednesday afternoon in a press release that Taylor and Eastern Community Schools were leaving the MIC following the conclusion of the 2014-15 school year to join a new-look Hoosier Heartland Conference.
Eastern officials were unaware such announcement was going to be made. No official decision has been made by the school corporation. Although discussions on the matter have been had, a formal decision won’t be made until after Christmas break, Superintendent Tracy Caddell said.
“Eastern is seriously exploring the option and will take a proposal to the school board in January, and the board at that time will vote on whether to leave the conference or not,” Caddell explained. “[Athletic director] Brad [Wilson] will take that proposal in January, but it will be up to the board at that time to decide if we are indeed leaving the conference or not.”
Later Wednesday, Franklin released a revised press release, excluding Eastern from the announcement. Taylor’s school board is yet to approve the move, either, however. Although seemingly more of a foregone conclusion than Eastern, a decision on Taylor’s conference affiliation won’t like come until January, as well.
“The school board is aware and supportive of this proposal,” Taylor school board president Dennis Marler said, “so, I don’t anticipate there to be an issue there when it comes to a vote.”
The Hoosier Heartland Conference, which currently consists of Carroll, Clinton Central, Clinton Prairie, Rossville, Sheridan and Tri-Central, would add Eastern, Taylor, Frontier and Tri-County to form a 10-team conference. The conference would begin competition in its new form at the start of the 2015-16 school year.
Frontier and Tri-County are members of the Midwest Conference, but several of its members are leaving to join a new conference, the Hoosier North Athletic Conference, in the fall of 2015, leaving the two schools in need of a new home.
“This will benefit all our students in athletic competition and academic opportunities,” Franklin’s release stated.
Taylor joined the MIC in 1974 after leaving the Rangeline Conference. MIC-wise, the Titans have had their most recent success in boys tennis, claiming back-to-back conference titles this season. Most recently, the girls basketball program won an MIC title in 2009. The boys basketball program has won two MIC titles since 1990, the last coming in 1999. The baseball program last won an MIC crown in 2003, and the football program won its lone MIC title in 1997.
Eastern was a charter member of the MIC in 1965, and after leaving to join the Three Rivers Conference in 1980, returned to the MIC in 1987. The school has won three straight MIC girls all-sports trophies, which is awarded to the athletic program which has the highest cumulative conference standings finish at the end of each school year.
The girls cross country program has won five straight MIC titles. The boys and girls track programs have each won four straight MIC titles. The softball program has won the conference crown five times since 1996, including three straight currently. The girls tennis program claimed its first MIC title in the spring, sharing the crown with Peru and Cass. The girls swimming program claimed its first MIC crown in 2011, and the volleyball program’s last conference title came in 2008.
In revenue sports, it’s been a different story for Eastern. The girls basketball program has never won an MIC title. The boys basketball program’s last conference championship came in 1965. The football program won a conference championship as a member of the TRC in 1984, but last won the MIC in 1977. And the baseball program has two conference titles since 1955, the last coming in 1981.
The current MIC lineup has remained unchanged since 2000, when Hamilton Heights joined as the eighth team after leaving the now defunct Rangeline Conference. Eastbrook left the MIC in 1998 to join the Central Indiana Conference, swapping places with Peru, which had been a member of the CIC since 1932.