The end of football for the Coulee Conference and SWC as they are known today could come quickly if enough support is gained for a realignment proposal discussed at a WIAA Board of Control meeting Wednesday in Stevens Point, Wis.

In an effort to create competitive balance, a plan for realignment involving the Coulee, MVC, SWC, SWAL, Six Rivers, South Central and Ridge and Valley conferences was developed and spread the teams into six new conferences in time for 2019.

The MVC, for the most part, remains intact. Aquinas, with its enrollment of 289 students, would be the only team on the move. West Salem, enrollment 508, was headed out but will stay as part of the current plan and give the conference seven schools.

The six schools that played in the Coulee last season are split up among three of the proposed conferences, which are mostly based on enrollments and not geography.

“First, my biggest issue is with what happened to Arcadia,” G-E-T athletic director Pete Peterson said. “I think it’s ridiculous when you look at the travel it creates for them.”

Arcadia is grouped with Viroqua, Westby, Dodgeville, Platteville, Prairie du Chien, Richland Center and River Valley in Conference B of the proposal. Westby and Viroqua are trips the team already makes, but they would easily be the closest of the Raiders’ season.

Aquinas would be the biggest school in Conference A, which it shares with Onalaska Luther, Cuba City, Darlington, Fennimore, Iowa-Grant, Lancaster and Mineral Point.

The departure of Aquinas would leave West Salem as the smallest school of the MVC by a large margin. Logan (796) is the second-smallest.

In terms of enrollment, West Salem is a better fit for the created Conference C with Adams-Friendship, Black River Falls, G-E-T, Mauston, Nekoosa, Wautoma and Wisconsin Dells.

It was moved out of Conference C and placed back in the MVC at Wednesday’s meeting. Westfield (296), which did not field a varsity team last season, took the Panthers’ place in Conference C.

Peterson doesn’t like the new fit for his school, either. Its closest road game would be Black River Falls (45 minutes).

“There are rivalries we would lose,” Peterson said. “And looking at the distances we’d travel, like Wisconsin Dells or Adams-Friendship, kids would have to get out of school early to be ready to play on time.

“On top of that, you want your fan base to travel, and that puts a lot of kids on the road late on a Friday night if they want to go watch the team play.”

The plan will be discussed again at a Board of Control meeting in Madison on March 2.

BASKETBALL PLAN NOT ADVANCED: A 6-5 vote against the “rural/urban” plan to address small-school competitive balance in basketball forced it to the table on Wednesday. It will be addressed again at the WIAA Annual Meeting in the spring.


Photos: 2017 high school football season in the La Crosse area

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Assistant Sports Editor

Todd Sommerfeldt has covered sports for the La Crosse Tribune since 2003 after doing the same previously in the Fox Cities and Rock County.