Geneseo is leaving the NIB XII Conference. Members of the school board unanimously approved a resolution signaling the district’s plans to exit the conference at the Thursday, Jan. 11 board meeting.

Geneseo is leaving the NIB XII Conference. Members of the school board unanimously approved a resolution signaling the district’s plans to exit the conference at the Thursday, Jan. 11 board meeting.

Geneseo was a founding member of the NIB XII (Northern Illinois Big 12) when the conference was launched during the 2010-11 school year.

However, an exit from the group “has been coming for awhile” said Geneseo Superintendent Scott Kuffel. “This is not a new conversation.”

Geneseo and four other NIB XII schools — LaSalle-Peru, Ottawa, Morris and Rochelle — have all signaled their intent to leave and form their own conference, to be joined by Sandwich and Plano.

The NIB XII started as a 12-team conference, but dropped to 10 teams when Dixon and Streator left the group in 2013.

Since that time, the differences in the remaining schools has become apparent, said Kuffel.

“Culturally and academically, we don’t have much in common with the others, which are bigger, more suburban schools,” he said.

Geneseo is the smallest NIB XII school with a high-school enrollment of 845, while schools like Kaneland, Yorkville and DeKalb are pushing 2,000 students.

“We’re a 4A size school (for football) and the others are 6A or 7A. That’s a big difference,” said Kuffel.

Geneseo’s also on the far western edge of the conference, and there’s been discussions among the eastern, suburban schools about also leaving the NIB XII.

“If the schools to the east all left, we could be left out in the cold,” said Kuffel.

“The conference was dissolving one way or another, and we wanted to be proactive and not left alone on an island,” said GHS principal and former athletic director Travis Mackey.

To be recognized as a conference by the Illinois High School Athletic Association, a group must have six teams.

At the moment, the proposed new conference has seven teams, but Mackey said it would be nice to add an eighth team to make scheduling events easier. He said schools like Dixon, Streator or Princeton could potentially fill an eighth spot.

Though Sandwich and Plano will be new rivals for the Maple Leafs, the other four teams are all old foes.

Many of them date to the days of Geneseo’s former conference, the NCIC (North Central Illinois Conference).

“We’ve got history with those schools. They’re familiar (to our fans),” said school board member John Puentes.

Though there’s not yet a name for the new conference, school board president Doug Ford said it would be nice to return to the NCIC name.

“Before we can create a new conference, we have to first leave the old one,” said Kuffel. Once all schools have agreed to abandon the NIB XII, the new group will work together to develop a new conference name, logo and bi-laws.

Morris has already voted to exit the NIB XII and school boards for LaSalle-Peru, Ottawa and Rochelle are expected to signal their intent to leave during January or February board meetings.

The schools will remain part of the NIB XII for the 2018-19 school year, and will start the new conference during the 2019-20 year.