Dowagiac officials consider move to Wolverine

Published 6:31 pm Wednesday, June 30, 2004

By By SCOTT NOVAK / Niles Daily Star
Dowagiac superintendent Larry Crandall gave a short presentation Monday night at Patrick Hamilton Elementary about a proposed move from the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference to the Wolverine Conference.
Crandall said that the Wolverine Conference has extended an official invitation to apply for admission to the league.
Dowagiac and Paw Paw were issued invitations according to Crandall.
Dowagiac joined the SMAC just three years ago, but has decided to look at switching athletic conferences.
The Wolverine Conference is made up of Three Rivers, Vicksburg, Comstock, Otsego, Plainwell, Allegan, South Haven and Gull Lake.
A deadline of Oct. 1 has been established for submitting a letter of application to the Wolverine Conference.
The league's Board of Governors will meet in November to decide on expansion.
Crandall told the board that in late April a group from the Wolverine Conference made an unofficial visit to Dowagiac to look at its facilities and hold informal talks about a possible expansion.
In early June, the Wolverine Conference voted to offer Dowagiac and Paw Paw an invitation to apply for admission.
The Wolverine Conference is made up of all Class B schools of similar size and facilities as Dowagiac and Paw Paw Crandall said.
Crandall then suggested that the board put it on the agenda for the August meeting to allow the public to come and comment on the proposed move.
Public comments can also be made at the next board meeting in July.
One of the key sticking points, besides whether or not the move would be benificial for Dowagiac's students/athletes is the fact that the Chieftains would no longer be able to play rivals Lakeshore and Niles.
The move into the SMAC three years ago allowed Dowagiac to remain rivals with the Lancers and made the Niles-Dowagiac rivalry a little more special because it was now a member of the same league.
Dowagiac and Niles played its 100th game last October.
While travel will remain virtually the same according to Crandall, the school district must examine all the ramifications of switching leagues.
When asked if there would be any backlash from the SMAC if the Wolverine Conference decided not to admit Dowagiac or the board decides not to apply, Crandall responded no.
Discussion between school officials has been on-going since the opportunity to apply for admission to the Wolverine Conference arose.
That discussion also included speaking with the head coaches of all the sports. A poll was taken according to Crandall on which way the district should go. That will be discussed at the August meeting as well.
The earliest Dowagiac and Paw Paw could officially become members of the Wolverine Conference is the fall of 2005.
However, due to possible scheduling problems that may arise from such a move, not all sports could be able to compete as a member of the league right away.