By PAUL HINES
---- — The South Seven Conference could have one less member if proposed cuts that include sports are approved by the state.
Monday night the Cahokia school board approved cuts for next year that would include extracurricular activities.The move, if approved by the state, could have a ripple effect on the rest of the South Seven Conference. The conference is currently made up of six schools – Carbondale, Marion, Mt. Vernon, Belleville Althoff, Cahokia and Centralia.“I think our conference will meet, and I think these are things as a conference that we need to talk about,” Mt. Vernon athletic director Doug Creel said. “There could be some possibilities of aligning with another conference or making a huge conference. There's always some of those options. It seems like schools are constantly shuffling.”Cahokia Superintendent Art Ryan said a final decision in the 4,000-student district won't come until the state signs off on a budget. The state is $1.2 million behind in payments to the district, and failing to make cuts would mean the district would run out of money in a year, Ryan said.“As of right now, it all is precautionary,” added Ryan, a former high school math teacher and teachers' union president who's been superintendent for about a year. “Everything that was done tonight was done with a worst-case scenario in mind.”The immediate impact on the loss of Cahokia sports to Mt. Vernon would include scheduling problems. Football is a notorious difficult sport to alter schedules.Currently the Rams play a nine-game schedule with five games against conference opponents. The loss of Cahokia would mean a void in week seven of next season's schedule.“Those are not ideal weeks to find a non-conference game because the majority of the state is in their conference play at that time,” Mt. Vernon football coach Jared Shaner said. “I have not looked, but just as a general rule there's not a whole lot open in week seven of the football season.“If it comes to that, it would be a struggle to say the least, and travel would probably be in our future.”Future decisions could center around having the Cahokia week as an off-week for South Seven Conference teams or teams could play a second time during the week.“I don't know what the best solution is, but those are two that I'm sure people will talk about,” Shaner said. “I think at some point the IHSA may have to be involved if people are struggling to find games.”The Cahokia decision came several weeks after the boys basketball team placed second in the state to Morgan Park. The Comanches finished the season 33-4 overall.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.