Sweet 16? The MVC hopes so

With Liberty hopping aboard in 2018-19, the search continues for one more school

Western Dubuque is one of the focal points for MVC expansion. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Western Dubuque is one of the focal points for MVC expansion. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Any odd number is an awkward number for scheduling.

And that’s why the Mississippi Valley Conference continues its search for expansion to a 16-team league in time for the 2018-19 school year.

“With 15 teams, during basketball season, somebody would probably have Friday night off,” Scott Kibby, principal and interim athletics director at Iowa City Liberty, said during Wednesday’s AD meeting at Xavier High School. “We really would like a 16th team, but if we don’t have this resolved, we’ll start scheduling for 2018-19 as a 15-team conference.”

That’s the year that Liberty joins the league as a full-fledged member. Liberty is fielding freshman teams this school year, using the facilities at Iowa City West. The new school opens in North Liberty next fall and will field a few varsity sports, before going full bore in 2018-19.

MVC officials said that a letter of inquiry was sent to all Class 3A and 4A schools east of Interstate 35, looking for a 16th school. One of the focal points is Western Dubuque, the largest school of the Wamac Conference.

Western Dubuque AD John Hlubek said Wednesday that it had received a second invitation from the MVC, and that “we are going to meet with all the varsity coaches as a group Thursday or Friday, and see how they feel.”

According to the BEDS Documents, which determine enrollment and classification, Western Dubuque has an enrollment of 724 in grades 10-12, and is the 46th largest high school in the state. The Bobcats are playing 4A football this fall.

“We’ve been growing steadily since I’ve been here, but our enrollment is supposed to drop down a bit before going back up,” Hlubek said.

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