The North Central Conference (NCC) has been regarded as one of the premier high school athletic conferences in Indiana since its inception in 1926. Huntington North's tenure in the league has been relatively brief.
If some recent speculation proves prophetic, the Vikings very well may turn out to be just a footnote in league history.
There is talk that Huntington North, which joined the NCC in the fall of 2003, is contemplating filing a petition to the Summit Athletic Conference (SAC) for membership.
Huntington North principal Jeremy Gulley was unavailable for comment Friday, while VikingS athletic director Michael Gasaway did not return a message left by The News-Sentinel.
“I have not heard anything about (Huntington North),” Snider athletic director Russ Isaacs said. “But a 10-team league would be nice, especially when it comes to scheduling for sports like football.”
The SAC currently has 10 teams (Concordia Lutheran, Bishop Dwenger, Bishop Luers, Elmhurst, Harding, North Side, Northrop, Snider, South Side and Wayne), but that will drop to nine at the end of this school year when Elmhurst shutters its doors.
That loss of a team has caused a major problem for the SAC teams trying to fill their football schedules. At this point, Bishop Dwenger, Harding and Snider cannot find a team to play for a ninth game to complete their schedules.
“There is not a team in the state of Indiana that has a Week 4 opening,” Isaacs said. “We've looked everywhere, even into Ohio.”
With financial cuts afflicting school corporations throughout the state, the move would make a tremendous amount of financial sense, as it would lower travel costs for the Huntington school. In the NCC, Huntington North has just one conference opponent within 51 miles (Marion is 27 miles away) and the teams must travel up to 104 miles (Richmond) for some games. If the Vikings were to join the SAC, its farthest conference opponent would be Snider, and that would involve just a 33-mile drive.
“I personally liked being in the NCC,” former Huntington North and Purdue basketball star Chris Kramer said. “But I could see travel being a reason (to move) because you do have to get out of school early for some games.”
That type of reasoning would not be without precedent.
In the spring of 2003, Lafayette Jefferson, which had been a member of the NCC since 1931, left the conference for the more condensed Hoosier Crossroads Conference in order to save travel time and costs.
If Huntington North were to petition the SAC, the evaluation process would be a thorough one, but not necessarily a lengthy one.
“If (Huntington North) wanted to join, it would file a petition and then the SAC principals and athletic directors would get together to vote on it,” Bishop Dwenger athletic director Andy Johns said. “It's not just a one-man vote (by a league commissioner).”