Eight metro-area Catholic schools to discuss new conference

  • Article by: DAVID LA VAQUE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 2, 2013 - 12:45 PM

Problems with competitive fit and recent conference changes have the schools planning to meet this month to talk about a new alliance between them.

hide

DeLaSalle's Trey Shepherd and Luke Scott celebrated after winning the class 3A boys' basketball championship at the Target Center in March. The Islanders have dominated the Tri-Metro Conference in several sports.

Photo: Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Eight of the metro area’s most athletically successful high schools — all of them Catholic — plan to meet this month to discuss forming their own conference, a response in part to wider conference migration and the difficulty some are having finding the right competitive fit.

DeLaSalle President Barry Lieske, who said the Islanders are fast outgrowing their conference, said seven additional schools — Benilde-St. Margaret’s, Cretin-Derham Hall, Hill-Murray, Holy Angels, Holy Family of Victoria, St. Thomas Academy and Totino-Grace — have “interest in joining in a preliminary conversation” about forming a new conference.

“We have so much similarity in how we operate,’’ Lieske said Wednesday. “And there looks like wholesale interest in having that conversation. I’m not even sure an all-Catholic school conference would be a likely outcome. But it could be, I guess.”

Reaction Wednesday from those schools ranged from interest and curiosity to polite but firm resistance. Catholic high schools were banded together in competition apart from Minnesota’s public schools until the mid-1970s. The last metro-area conference of Catholic schools disbanded in the 1980s.

Such an alliance would combine schools that, in 2011-12 and so far this school year, have won 13 state team championships, including titles in high-profile sports such as football (Totino-Grace), boys’ hockey (St. Thomas Academy) and boys’ and girls’ basketball (DeLaSalle).

But those schools have been criticized for having an unfair advantage, especially at tournament time, when they play public school teams that can’t match the private schools’ ability to attract top student-athletes from across the metro area.

Lieske cited the growth of DeLaSalle, which competes in the Tri-Metro Conference, the St. Paul City Conference asking Cretin-Derham Hall to leave about a decade ago, and the recent vote by public schools to oust St. Thomas Academy from the Classic Suburban Conference as reasons to consider a new alliance.

“I think there are raw feelings there,” Lieske said.

Presidents and activities directors from the eight schools plan to meet on May 16.

St. Thomas Academy Headmaster Thomas Mich said he is “more than happy, even a little excited to explore other options. But we’re not trying to run from the Classic Suburban Conference.”

Holy Family president Kathie Brown said her 13-year-old school, while happy with its situation in the Wright County Conference, is interested to take part in a broader conversation because she can relate to St. Thomas Academy’s situation.

“It was very difficult to be invited into a conference initially,” Brown said. “It continues to be a challenge to be welcome. Because we’ve been successful at a very early age, I think the challenges have been even larger than we anticipated. That’s another great reason to at least start these conversations.”

Benilde-St. Margaret’s and Totino-Grace face uncertain futures after the North Suburban Conference announced it was dissolving after the 2013-14 school year. Both schools have sought better competitive fits for their flagship sports. Totino-Grace football moved to the Northwest Suburban Conference last fall while the Red Knights’ boys’ hockey program played an independent schedule this past season.

Benilde-St. Margaret’s has applied to join the newly formed Metro West Conference and been denied entry to the Classic Suburban. Activities director Jerry Pettinger said he is “interested in talking more’’ about an all-Catholic conference approach but believes that “we can all still get along’’ in mixed conferences as well.

Holy Angels also is looking for a new conference after several schools announced they would be leaving the Missota Conference.

Said Lieske, “With all this change going on around us, is this an important time in history to have our own conversation on where we will most likely land? … Sometimes, if you don’t plan, then your future is determined by others.”

Hill-Murray activities director Bill Lechner, who also coaches boys’ hockey and baseball, is skeptical that an all-Catholic school conference would solve more problems than it would create. Hill-Murray competes in the Classic Suburban and voted for keeping St. Thomas in the conference.

“You take all the Catholic schools and there are a lot of not-good fits athletically,” Lechner said. “We’re fine where we’re at. We will listen to be polite. But we’re not interested.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - LP: B. Wilson 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Grimm 8
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 2
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: D. Otero 0
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 6 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Capuano 3
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 1 FINAL
Colorado - WP: E. Butler 5
Boston - LP: R. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: C. Tillman 7
Milwaukee - WP: Z. Duke 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: M. Melancon 0
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 3 FINAL
Miami - LP: J. Cosart 2
NY Mets - WP: J. Niese 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 2
Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: C. Archer 3
Cleveland - WP: T. House 7 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: T. May 3
Seattle - LP: C. Young 1 FINAL
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 10
Cincinnati - LP: M. Leake 4 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: J. Motte 8
San Francisco - LP: Y. Petit 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: A. Cashner 3
Texas - LP: C. Lewis 5 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: J. Weaver 8
San Diego 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(21) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
(18) Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
Miss State 34 FINAL
(8) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(14) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(24) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
(22) Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 0 FINAL
Portland 3
Houston 0 FINAL
Philadelphia 0
New England 0 FINAL
Columbus 1
San Jose 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
Seattle 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 4
D.C. 3 FINAL
Chicago 3
FC Dallas 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan

ADVERTISEMENT

Advertisement
Golden Gavel by Star Tribune

Countdown to great deals

Bid Sept. 21-29

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings do on Sunday in New Orleans?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close