Granite City's desire to find a new league affiliation found a road block with the South Seven Conference.
Administrators from member schools last week voted to a 3-3 deadlock on Granite City's application for membership. Conference bylaws require a two-third majority.
"We were disappointed because we thought there was a good fit there, but things already seem to be working out," said John Moad, athletic director at Granite City High School. "Scheduling will be a little time consuming, but (the South Seven) wants us as sort of a pseudo member and schedule games with us, we've reached out to some schools in Missouri, and the Southwestern Conference has really worked with us, too."
The Granite City District 9 Board of Education last spring voted to leave the Southwestern Conference after 83 seasons as a charter member, citing competitive imbalance and safety concerns. In September, it petitioned for membership in the South Seven Conference, which includes Althoff, Cahokia, Carbondale, Centralia, Marion, and Mount Vernon.
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The vote was postponed during a January meeting as members focused on brokering peace between Althoff and Centralia. Even then, however, tentative concerns were raised concerning Granite City's application. Namely, some were concerned about the Warriors' geographical proximity to other members and the scheduling imbalance caused by having an odd number of teams.
"We thought we had the schedule figured out by bringing Collinsville in for football," Moad said.
Collinsville, also a charter member of the Southwestern Conference, has elected to be an independent for football only beginning next season.
Moad said comparative enrollment also was a concern. With a student population of 1,812, Granite City would be the largest school in the South Seven by far, at least doubling the enrollment of four other schools in the league.
Those concerns were stoked by recent news that Granite City Steel would recall about 500 laid off workers as it reignites one of two dormant blast furnaces, though Moad said the mill has little impact on the school's enrollment.
Similar concerns prevented Granite City from pursuing membership to the Mississippi Valley Conference, which includes Highland, Jerseyville, Triad, Waterloo, Civic-Memorial, and Mascoutah.
"In our eyes that's an ideal fit, but I can see their concerns about the enrollment," Moad said. "Football, obviously is the driving force there. We schedule games with them in other sports and will continue to do so."
Since the expansion the IHSA playoffs, conference championship have no bearing on playoff eligibility. Moad said the biggest advantage in conference membership is the ease of scheduling.
"One of the questions I'm getting from people is whether we can still participate in the playoffs," Moad said. "Being in a conference has no impact on the post season with the IHSA. We're going to be fine."