As the North Suburban Conference disbands, BSM is left without a replacement

Effective June 30, 2014, the North Suburban Conference will cease to exist. With only six schools currently remaining in the conference, each with diverse programming and enrollment size, the decision was made to disband the conference. This leaves Benilde-St. Margaret’s with no current conference affiliation for the 2014-2015 school year and beyond. It is now up to the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) to place BSM into a conference.

Trouble first began for the North Suburban Conference when three schools, North Branch, Chisago Lakes, and St. Francis, announced they would depart for the Mississippi Eight conference for geographic reasons at the end of the 2012-2013 school year. St. Louis Park and Robbinsdale Cooper were the next to jump conferences and settled into the newly-formed Metro West conference for the 2014-2015 school year, leaving the North Suburban Conference no choice but to disband.

As of now, Benilde-St. Margaret’s is the only of the remaining six schools to be without a conference for the 2014-2015 school year. Totino-Grace and Spring Lake Park were placed in the Northwest Suburban Conference by the MSHSL, giving that particular conference 14 schools. Fridley and Columbia Heights were recommended, by the MSHSL, to join the Tri-Metro Conference where they will compete against small, private schools including Breck, Blake, and DeLaSalle.

The Minnesota State High School League’s process is for a school to apply to two conferences, but if they are denied admission, a MSHSL committee will select a conference for the school to be placed in. Benilde-St. Margaret’s applied to the Metro West and Lake Conference but were denied by both.

Benilde-St. Margaret’s has reached the point where the MSHSL will make a final decision. “We have a meeting with the State High School league for our placement in a conference on Tuesday September 10 and we will hear back from the MSHSL about a week to ten days later,” Benilde-St. Margaret’s Athletic Director, Jerry Pettinger said.

For the final decision, Benilde-St. Margaret’s put down three conferences that they would like to join for the 2014-2015 season. “The top choice in our application process was the Metro West conference, and we also applied for the Lake Conference and Northwest Suburban,” Pettinger said.

Benilde-St. Margaret’s is not the only school still looking for a conference, as St. Thomas Academy and Academy of Holy Angels, both private schools, have not been accepted into a conference and are also relying on the MSHSL to place them into a conference for the upcoming school year.

When the MSHSL makes their decision on September 10, there is little chance for a win-win situation between schools. “Whatever conference we are put in, they [the other schools in the conference] won’t be happy with BSM being there,” said Pettinger.