The question is, Now what?
In the wake of the Metro Suburban Conference Board of Control's unanimous vote Wednesday to accept seven current Suburban Christian Conference schools effective the 2014-15 academic year, it leaves Montini, St. Francis, Marmion, Rosary, Aurora Christian and Marian Central taken by surprise and twisting in the wind.
It's all but a done deal that the Metro Suburban Conference will double to 14 schools by adding IC Catholic Prep, Wheaton Academy, Aurora Central Catholic, Chicago Christian, Guerin, St. Edward and Walther Lutheran. Those schools all announced at Thursday's SCC athletic director's meeting they'd accepted the Metro Suburban's invitations. As Aurora Central athletic director Sean Bieterman said Thursday, the paperwork will be signed "within a couple days."
This came to a divisive and for some a disappointing conclusion months after initial SCC meetings had devised a plan for two permanent divisions for football starting in 2014, with preliminary thought to expanding the format to all sports. The divisions, based on geography, were suggested to be anchored by Montini and St. Francis in one division, Marmion and Marian Central in the other.
That's all changed as now Metro Suburban schools Glenbard South, Fenton, Timothy Christian, Riverside-Brookfield, Elmwood Park, Ridgewood and Illiana Christian will welcome the newcomers in a probable two-division format again based on geography or enrollment.
"At this point the only thing I can say is we have our regular SCC Board meeting next Wednesday and that's officially when everything gets presented to the principals," said Mary Lou Kunold, athletic director at Rosary, the sister school to all-boys Marmion Academy.
"The remaining six schools, hopefully we'll keep the SCC going and maybe ask some schools to come in. Our future and the investigation of how we're going to proceed, we'll know more after next week, I guess," she said.
Kunold noted, "it's all football-driven."
As such, St. Francis coach Greg Purnell was less surprised by some of the smaller schools' departure than by their initial acceptance into the SCC in 2009. For St. Francis' future, he hopes for "a level playing field."
"I hope we're able to end up in a quality conference, that we end up in a league where philosophically, academically and athletically we're all on the same playing field on our approach to high school athletics," Purnell said.
An April Metro Suburban meeting attended by athletic directors from the seven departing SCC schools confirmed change was coming. Last week Montini football coach Chris Andriano said: "We're left out in the cold. We've got to figure out what we're going to do."
Andriano said over the years the Chicago Catholic League had "made it clear to all the Catholic schools in our conference that they were interested in us."
Andriano said the Chicago Catholic League was interested in establishing a "megaconference" by also possibly inviting members of the East Suburban Catholic Conference, forming divisions based on enrollment and geography "and trying to come up with what would make sense, alignments that would be fair to everybody."
A source did confirm that the Chicago Catholic League had inquired into Montini's interest.
The East Suburban Catholic Conference may also be a destination if the remaining SCC schools decide not to expand.
Benet athletic director Gary Goforth said on Thursday that two years ago the ESCC had inquired whether three SCC schools would be interested in joining. Goforth declined to say which schools but did note "they were happy" to stay put. For the nine-member ESCC, Goforth said the optimum number of schools entering would be one, three or five.
The ESCC Board of Control meets May 7 and Goforth said, "I'm sure it will be a discussion item."
"If they showed interest we would definitely listen," he said. "Where it would go from there, I don't know."
That seems to be a common theme for the SCC's remaining Big Five.
"We've been approached by a couple conferences (in the past)," said Marmion athletic director Joe Chivari. "Our options are out there. We can do several things, but the premise is working on continuing to excel in academics and athletics, and the fit has to match those goals."
Josh Welge contributed to this story.