Streator High School has the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference in a holding pattern.
With Dixon set to leave the NIB 12 for the Big Northern Conference after next school year, the NIB 12 has been in search of a new member for months.
However, after wanting to find a replacement quickly, Streator has shifted the focus of the conference.
Streator, a school of 876 students and the southern most school in the NIB 12, spent much of January in a very public and highly-publicized search for a new conference.
After inquires and attempts to leave the NIB 12 failed over the last few years, Streator — which has long provided the NIB 12 regular updates in its quest for a new conference — appears to have found not one but two potential options.
Since the last NIB 12 meeting in early January, the school has been involved in simultaneous discussions with both the Corn Belt Conference — which needs to replace the departing Rantoul — and the Interstate Eight Conference, which needs to replace the departing Dwight.
On Jan. 15, Streator met with members of the Corn Belt and the following day meet with officials from the Interstate Eight.
Streator has not yet received an invitation to join either conference, and athletic director Kevin Wargo told the Ottawa Times the school is only investigating its options, but Streator’s search has intensified enough over the last few weeks that some believe it’s possible — if not likely — that Streator will eventually leave the NIB 12.
A potential move would help ease the amount of travel for Streator, but would force the school to give up its conference rivalries with La Salle-Peru and Ottawa.
If Streator were to leave the NIB 12, it would create multiple options and scenarios for the NIB 12, which will hold its monthly meeting Wednesday in La Salle.
If Streator were to secede, it would leave the NIB 12 with 10 teams in two divisions.
In that scenario, the NIB 12 could consolidate into one 10-team conference for all sports, including a 10-team, conference-only football schedule.
Another option would be to have a 10-team football conference with two five-team divisions in all other sports. Such a move would likely force either Morris or Rochelle to switch from the NIB 12 East to the NIB 12 West to balance the conference.
It is unclear whether all the schools in the conference would be in favor of a 10-team conference in either form.
If they are not, a third option would be trying to replace both Dixon and Streator to keep intact a 12-team conference, which would provide the NIB 12 with better long-term stability.
While the conference has taken no action in recent months in finding a new member, Freeport remains an option, while sources say the NIB 12 has previously discussed adding Plano and Sandwich but were told that either both or none would join.
With an 11-team conference, their additions seemed unlikely, but if Streator leaves discussions could be reignited.
Both the Corn Belt and the Interstate Eight are scheduled to meet again this month, with the Corn Belt to meet on Thursday, during which a call to vote on league expansion is expected to occur, Mahomet-Seymour Matt Hensely told Springfield’s State Journal-Register.
In the meantime, the NIB 12 is going about its business as normal, waiting to see what its next move will be.
Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.