Sports / The Prairie Fire / May 8, 2013

Midwest Conference football welcomes Macalester College

Conference realignment in college football has not been limited to the likes of the Big Ten this season. The Midwest Conference will split into two divisions of six teams after adding Macalester College of St. Paul, Minn. The plan is expected to go into action starting with the 2014 football season.

“There was mutual interest to get something like this done,” Athletic Director Chad Eisele said. “For the Midwest Conference, having 12 teams is much easier for scheduling. It allows us to go to divisions. They are in the [Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference], but are independent for football and needed a league to play in.”

After Cornell College rejoined the Midwest Conference in all sports last season, football was left with an unbalanced schedule. Moving forward, the Midwest Conference will feature a North Division consisting of Macalester and the five Wisconsin schools (Beloit, Lawrence, Ripon, St. Norbert and Carroll) while Knox, Monmouth, Grinnell, Cornell, Lake Forest and Illinois Colleges will make up the South Division.

Though Macalester is over 250 miles away from the next closest conference member, the move will actually improve travel conditions.

“It cuts down on travel. We aren’t going to make as many trips to Wisconsin, and for the Wisconsin schools, it is a lot easier to get to the Twin Cities than down to say Jacksonville, Ill. or Grinnell, Iowa,” Eisele said.

Starting in the 2014 season, Knox will play five games against divisional opponents and three against north division opponents, which will allow them to schedule one additional non-conference game that will likely come against a team closer to home.

“We’re excited to play more regional games for football. It is going to enhance the experience of the student athlete because it will reduce the amount of classes they have to miss [for travel days],” head coach Damon Tomeo said.

According to Tomeo, adding Macalester also provides an opportunity for new recruits to see the program.

“They are very similar to us both athletically and academically. To get into the Minneapolis market will be important for us from a recruiting standpoint,” he said.

Graphic credited to Andrei Papancea

Graphic credited to Andrei Papancea

While making it clear that additional movement is not on the horizon, Eisele did not completely rule out realignment in the future.

“There is no discussion at all to have [Macalester] move in for any other sports, and there is currently no talk on adding other teams, but that doesn’t mean the door is totally shut,” he said.

Jackson White
Jackson White is a senior double majoring in political science and secondary education. This is his third year as a sports editor for TKS. Over the course of the 2010-2011 academic year, Jackson worked for, writing feature stories and columns about high school and college baseball in central Illinois. Outside of the Publications Office, he is an information assistant for the Knox College Sports Information Department and a two-time all-Midwest Conference baseball player. Jackson is the recipient of five awards from the Illinois College Press Association, including two first place awards for sports game coverage and sports page design.

Tags:  chad eisele conference realignment damon tomeo knox football macalester college midwest conference

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1 Comment

May 16, 2013

It’s really nice to Universities that still have actual college sports. There are kids who for one reason or another can’t play for the D1 programs but they are still kids who love sports. It’s good there are still places thay can go and compete as part of their education. whatever the level competition makes you better. For a yuoung man there is no better lesson than learning to keep getting up when you’ve been knocked down.

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