The bubble is bursting. Again.
A major shakeup is in the works in the Okaw Valley Conference. League president Sean German, from Argenta-Oreana, confirmed Tuesday that nine schools plan to leave as soon as conference bylaws will permit, the end of the 2013-14 school year.
It's the latest development in an ongoing, four-month saga that originated with five schools looking to exit (Central A&M, Meridian, Shelbyville, Sullivan and Warrensburg-Latham) followed by a proposal where none would leave but four would be added.
"When we talked expansion, I was hopeful," German said. "It was a solution our AD (Dan Sheehan) brought forward. We thought it addressed the needs of everyone."
About 50 letters of inquiry were sent to schools of similar enrollments throughout the area. The reaction surprised German.
"I didn't receive one application," he said.
In recent weeks, four Okaw schools that were either on the fence about leaving or preferred not to said they were willing to move: A-O, Clinton, St. Teresa and Tuscola.
Meridian Principal Jack Blickensderfer was the first proponent of reorganization.
"Each school has a different reason (for leaving)," Blickensderfer said. "People say if you can't compete, get better. As a basketball coach I believe that, but as a principal, there is a competitive imbalance from our perspective. In the last 10 years, for the 10 sports, we've won two conference titles."
Unity athletic director Scott Hamilton said the announcement wasn't unexpected.
"It's not what we were hoping for, but we've seen writing on the wall," he said. "I'm not sure how it'll shake out. The three (remaining schools) will sit down and see what is left for us. We've started doing some legwork. Now, it's a matter of moving forward."
The Okaw shuffle
A conference that was chartered on Dec. 12, 1925, is in the midst of a major shakeup. Nine of 12 Okaw Valley Conference schools on Tuesday submitted letters expressing their intent — pending school board approval — to leave the league after the 2013-14 school year. Here’s how it looks:
SCHOOL ENROLLMENT JOINED
Argenta-Oreana 315 1982
Central A&M 280 1997
Clinton 504 1990
Decatur St. Teresa 287 1971
Meridian 338 1995
Shelbyville 343 1989
Sullivan 381 1990
Tuscola 289 2006
Warrensburg-Latham 333 1990
Maroa-Forsyth 306 1995
Monticello 559 1925
Unity 482 2006
NOTE: Enrollment figures courtesy IHSA