The rumblings surrounding West Chicago’s future within the DuPage Valley Conference have run rampant in recent years.
On Monday night, West Chicago’s school board turned the rumors into reality after voting 4-3 in favor of leaving the DVC for the Metro Suburban Conference.
“Well, obviously, I’m sad to see West Chicago go,” Naperville North athletic director Jim Konrad said. “They’re one of the founders of the conference, so you know there’s some great history with West Chicago and it’s something that they’ll take with them as they leave the conference.”
Since winning the 1974 Class 3A football state title, the struggles of West Chicago’s football program have been well documented.
Only five winning seasons have followed, with the last one coming in 1992.
Since finishing 5-4 in 1992, West Chicago has endured a losing campaign every single year since — with the lone exception of finishing 5-5 in 2002, the last year it qualified for the postseason.
That Class 3A football state title is the school’s only state championship in any sport.
“I understand that their athletic department, the principal, whole school community really weighed what’s best for their students and, obviously, they’re making what they feel is the best decision for their kids,” Konrad said.
With an enrollment of 2,148, West Chicago would immediately become the biggest school in the Metro Suburban, which includes Glenbard South, Fenton, Ridgewood, Riverside-Brookfield and Elmwood Park.
Established in 1967, the DVC has operated successfully with eight members during the majority of its existence.
Glenbard South was the last team to leave the conference, doing so after the 1996 school year.
Following Glenbard South’s departure, the conference moved forward with its seven remaining members for one year before admitting West Aurora in 1998.
“I don’t (know what will happen),” Konrad said. “There’s obviously a ton of options now, and I’m sure the seven remaining principals and I’m assuming the seven athletic directors will get together and determine what the conference is gonna look like going forward. Would we stay at seven or would we move it to eight or some other number? We haven’t got that far, obviously.”
Reached on Tuesday, Wheaton Warrenville South athletic director Mike Healy indicated he believes the conference will aim to stay at eight schools.
According to both Healy and Wheaton Warrenville South football coach Ron Muhitch, any school that wishes to leave the conference must give up to two years notice.
“That’s up to the board of controls. It’s accurate. I don’t know where that is at this point,” Healy said of the two-year requirement. “I don’t know what you would consider. Officially, they haven’t withdrawn yet, so I don’t know how that process would work. That would be a board of controls deal.”
West Chicago joined the DVC in 1975.