116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Throughout the second half of its 94-year existence, the Mississippi Valley Conference has been a model of stability.
With Waterloo East’s announcement Monday that it will exit the league — the first school to do so since 1978 — the question becomes, what’s next?
Will another school, or multiple schools, depart? Will the league, founded in 1927, seek to replace East with somebody else? Will it move on as a 15-team conference?
“I’m a be-patient guy. Let’s see what happens in the next 30 days,” said Aaron Stecker, athletics director at Cedar Rapids Kennedy.
“It needs some time to sit. Maybe this will open the door for others to leave. Our conference might not be done (with change).”
Ten schools from the Central Iowa Metro League — Ames, Des Moines East, Des Moines Hoover, Des Moines Lincoln, Des Moines North, Des Moines Roosevelt, Fort Dodge, Marshalltown, Mason City and Ottumwa — started the process by announcing in March that they were departing the CIML and starting their own league, citing a competitive disadvantage from the Des Moines suburban schools.
The 10-school alliance — yet unnamed, but which will begin operation in the fall of 2022 — targeted others, including Waterloo East and Waterloo West. East accepted; West declined.
“I knew it was going to the (Waterloo) board,” Stecker said. "But I was surprised that is wasn’t an all-or-nothing deal, with East and West (a package deal).”
East’s exit will leave the MVC with 15 schools starting with the 2022-23 school year:
Six schools are from the Cedar Rapids metropolitan area — Jefferson, Kennedy and Washington of the Cedar Rapids Community School District, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Linn-Mar and Cedar Rapids Xavier.
There’s Iowa City Community School District members City High, West and Liberty, plus Cedar Falls and Waterloo West in Black Hawk County, and Dubuque Hempstead, Dubuque Senior, Dubuque Wahlert and Western Dubuque.
The 2018 addition of Western Dubuque and Liberty had been the first major change in the MVC landscape since 1992.
Ask just about any league official, and they will tell you that a league with an odd number of teams is less than optimal.
“I assume we will start to pursue a 16th school,” Liberty AD Mike Morrison said. “Hopefully, we can find somebody that fits. If not, it will be back to the drawing board and change some schedules.
“I think there are some schools that are a good fit, or will grow into being a good fit.”
Two candidates appear to stand out.
The first is Waverly-Shell Rock, a member of the Northeast Iowa Conference since 1933.
Waverly-Shell Rock has a BEDS Documents enrollment of 555, the largest in the NEIC. That figure would make it the smallest public school in the league but larger than Xavier and Wahlert.
There’s some baggage there, though. Last year, fans from Waverly-Shell Rock allegedly made racist comments at a baseball player from Charles City. In the aftermath, Charles City announced that it was considering leaving the NEIC, and perhaps taking other schools along.
Another option would be rapidly growing Clear Creek Amana, a Wamac Conference member located in Tiffin, just west of Iowa City.
CCA’s BEDS enrollment is 523. Since 2000, the population of Tiffin has grown from 975 to 3,300.
1927-28: Cedar Rapids Washington, Davenport, Iowa City, Clinton, and Dubuque form the Mississippi Valley Conference. Original membership is 5.
1928-29: Cedar Rapids Grant joins. Membership increases to 6.
1932-33: Waterloo West joins. Membership increases to 7.
1935-36: Waterloo East joins. Cedar Rapids Wilson, Cedar Rapids McKinley, Cedar Rapids Franklin and Cedar Rapids Roosevelt open to replace closing Cedar Rapids Washington and Cedar Rapids Grant. The new schools remain members of the conference. Membership increases to 10.
1943-44: Waterloo East and Waterloo West leave to fully align with the Big Six Conference. Membership decreases to 8.
1957-58: Cedar Rapids Jefferson and Cedar Rapids Washington open to replace Cedar Rapids Wilson, Cedar Rapids McKinley, Cedar Rapids Franklin and Cedar Rapids Roosevelt, which become middle schools. The new schools remain members of the conference. East Moline (Ill.), Moline (Ill.) and Rock Island (Ill.) join the conference from the Northwest Conference. close. Membership increases to 9.
1959-60: Davenport West is opened and joins the conference. Membership increases to 10.
1967-68: Cedar Rapids Kennedy is opened and joins the conference. Membership increases to 11.
1969-70: Iowa City West joins, after competing as an independent. Muscatine and Bettendorf join from the Little Six Conference. Davenport Central, Davenport West, Moline (Ill.), East Moline (Ill.), and Rock Island (Ill.) leave to help form the Quad Cities Metro Conference, Membership decreases to 9.
1970-71: Dubuque Hempstead is opened and joins the conference. Membership increases to 10.
1978-79: Dubuque Wahlert joins, after competing as an independent. Bettendorf, Muscatine and Clinton leave to help found the Mississippi Eight Conference. Membership decreases to 8.
1986-87: Linn-Mar and Cedar Rapids Prairie join from the East Central Conference. Membership increases to 10.
1992-93: Cedar Falls, Waterloo East and Waterloo West join from the disbanding Big Eight Conference. Cedar Rapids Regis joins from the Wamac Conference. Membership increases to 14.
1998-99: Cedar Rapids Regis merges with Cedar Rapids LaSalle (Wamac Conference) to form Cedar Rapids Xavier. The new school remains in the league. Membership remains at 14.
2018-19: Western Dubuque joins from the Wamac Conference. Iowa City Liberty opens and joins. Membership increases to 16.
2022-23: Waterloo East is scheduled to leave to join 10 Central Iowa schools in a yet-to-be-named alliance. Membership will decrease to 15.