Big 12 in "early talks" with Peoria 4

Big 12 in "early talks" with Peoria 4

The Big 12 Conference is in early discussions with four Peoria high schools about the possibility of those schools joining the league. Representatives from the Big 12 met Monday with officials from Peoria High, Manual, Richwoods and Notre Dame to gauge their interest in becoming a part of the Big 12. Central athletic director John Woods stressed these are "very early talks" and there is long way to go, but the now the lines of communication have been opened. Woods says the Big 12 has been looking for new schools for several years, courting Mahomet-Seymour, Rantoul and Kankakee in the past. The conference lost Mattoon to the Apollo last year, and both MacArthur and Eisenhower are leaving for the CS8 next year. That leaves the Big 12 with only seven members, and if they could get those four Peoria schools on board it would bring that number to 11.
CHAMPAIGN -- The Big 12 Conference is in early discussions with four Peoria high schools about the possibility of those schools joining the league.  Representatives from the Big 12 met Monday with officials from Peoria High, Manual, Richwoods and Notre Dame to gauge their interest in becoming a part of the Big 12.

Central athletic director John Woods stressed these are "very early talks" and there is long way to go, but the now the lines of communication have been opened.

"We're in some early conversations with the Peoria schools," Woods said.  "We've been looking for a number of years, probably going back three or four years.  The Peoria schools seem like a natural fit.  Peoria High School and Peoria Manual were charter members of the Big 12 dating back to 1924 and were members of the Big 12 for about 30 years."

Woods says the Big 12 has been looking for new schools for several years, courting Mahomet-Seymour, Rantoul and Kankakee in the past.  The conference lost Mattoon to the Apollo last year, and both MacArthur and Eisenhower are leaving for the CS8 next year.  That leaves the Big 12 with only seven members, and if they could get those four Peoria schools on board it would bring that number to 11.

"Adding them would give us 11 schools, which is not ideal - 12 or 10 would be perfect - but giving us 11 schools is going to be great," said Woods.  "I think it gets back to some of the tradition of the Big 12.  Many of us in the Big 12 are traditionalists and would love to see Peoria come back into the conference."

Woods says it would also make sense geographically.

"When you've got Interstate 74, you're looking at Danville, Champaign-Urbana, Bloomington-Normal and Peoria, it seems like a natural fit to take our seven and their four to make that I-74 connection," said Woods.

There is no timeline yet for when a merger could happen.  Woods says there are too many factors that still need to be ironed out.

"The Big 12 schools have to look at our non-conference football stuff, non-conference volleyball, soccer, boys and girls basketball - and Peoria would have to do the same to make a determination about when we could make this happen, if we could make it happen."
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