Central DeWitt wants to join the Mississippi Athletic Conference.
MAC administrators now have to decide if the feeling is mutual.
Central DeWitt superintendent Dr. Dan Peterson, principal George Pickup and activities director Kurt Kreiter sent a letter to MAC administrators Thursday requesting to join the league for the 2019-20 school year.
The letter highlights that Central DeWitt's competition level, geographic proximity, community support and academic excellence would make them a strong fit for the MAC.
"If we were to be in the MAC, it would be an opportunity for a community to expand and for people to take a closer look at us," Kreiter said Friday. "Our facilities are good, and our academics are second-to-none right now."
Central DeWitt has been a member of the Wamac since 2003. That league is shrinking from 16 to 14 schools this next school year as Western Dubuque is headed to the Mississippi Valley Conference and Anamosa is going to the River Valley Conference.
Kreiter already has made Wamac officials aware of Central DeWitt's interest in the MAC.
"That was a tough discussion," Kreiter said. "They're great schools, and you develop a camaraderie with each one of them."
A move to the MAC would decrease Central DeWitt's travel significantly. Muscatine would be its longest trip in the MAC (53 miles), about the average distance it travels in the Wamac.
"Some of our shorter trips are like an hour right now," Kreiter said. "Varsity is one thing, but when you start sending junior varsity teams to South Tama on a Monday night for wrestling or a bowling team to Independence, those are tough things."
MAC principals approved Burlington's request to leave the conference following the 2018-19 season earlier this week.
Burlington's departure leaves the MAC with nine schools, not ideal for scheduling.
With the MVC expanding to 16 schools next year and going to an 18-game conference slate for basketball, the opportunities for non-conference games are dwindling.
"I think among us in the MAC, the concern is more about the strength of our conference," Davenport West activities director and MAC chairperson Kevin Petersen said. "If you let teams out, and you start to have these superconferences like the CIML and MVC, are we going to dissolve if we continue to let teams out?
"The reason to add is not scheduling but more about keeping our numbers strong so we don't dissolve."
Petersen said the MAC has formed a five-member committee of administrators to discuss the future of the conference. They are scheduled to meet next week.
The next meeting with MAC activities directors and principals is slated for Wednesday, May 9. Petersen said the committee will share its thoughts and possible recommendations with the other administrators.
"The committee will look at all our options," Petersen said. "A decision has not been made in terms of the direction the MAC will go."
Petersen said the May 9 meeting would be the earliest Central DeWitt's request would be addressed and possibly voted on.
Central DeWitt is 76th in the 2017-18 Board of Education Document enrollment figures (388 students for grades 9-11). The Sabers are Class 3A for four-class boys sports and 4A in the girls five-class system.
It would be the next-to-smallest school in the MAC to Davenport Assumption and more than 325 students less than North Scott.
"Of course some people will look at it and say, 'How are you ever going to compete and win a conference championship with those MAC powerhouses?'" Kreiter said. "Well, the Wamac is a pretty tough conference.
"To win a Wamac wrestling title, you have to be pretty darn tough. And that's true for a lot of sports in that conference."
Kreiter starred at North Scott and saw how it took the Lancers and Pleasant Valley time to build competitive athletic programs when they first joined the conference in 1978 and 1987, respectively.
For Central DeWitt to join the MAC by 2019-20, Wamac bylaws state the date of withdrawal by the member school must complete the current school year plus the following year.
"As you can see, timing is very tight as we will need to inform the Wamac this year if we are accepted into the Mississippi Athletic Conference," Central DeWitt administrators said in the letter to MAC officials.
Central DeWitt offers 17 boys and girls sports. It does not have boys and girls tennis or swimming. The Sabers also play their boys golf in the spring as opposed to the other MAC members which compete in the fall.
If the MAC were to extend an invitation, Kreiter said Central DeWitt would take it before its board of directors for final approval.
"Until we get an offer or invitation, it is just talk," Kreiter said. "Hopefully, we can receive an invitation and we can have this conversation in our community."