The continued dissolution of the Missota Conference is sending ripples across Minnesota high school sports.
Earlier this summer, Red Wing, Northfield and New Prague all jettisoned the conference, with Red Wing and Northfield landing in the packed Big 9 Conference. New Prague, meanwhile, became the 12th full member of the burgeoning Wright County Conference, scuttling the plans of the Marshall Tigers.
Marshall was set to join the Wright County Conference, for football only, starting in 2014, but with New Prague joining for all sports, the Tigers have had to cancel their Southwest Conference swan song on the gridiron.
As a result, the Southwest Conference is looking for a solution and considering a merger with the six-member South Central Conference.
The two conferences previously created the ill-fated Southern Minnesota Alliance, a football-only conference which lasted two years (2005-06 and 2006-07).
"There's been some real preliminary discussions between the two conferences about looking at ways that we could help one another out," Marshall activities director Bruce Remme said.
It is unclear whether a proposed merger of the two conferences would cover all sports, or just football, as Remme said that talks are still in their infancy.
"About all that we've done is the superintendents and the school boards from all 13 schools have all been asked to give an OK to enter into some preliminary discussions about what a partnership might look like," Remme said.
What is known, however, is that Marshall will not be joining the Wright County Conference and will play the 2013 season as a member of the Southwest Conference. The Tigers begin the season on the road against Robinsdale Cooper on Aug. 30.
Another preliminary meeting between representatives from the two conferences is scheduled for August, though Remme was unsure of the exact date.
The seven-member Southwest Conference consists of one Class AAAA football team (Marshall), two Class AAA teams (Worthington and Redwood Valley) and four Class AA members (Luverne, Jackson County Central, Windom Area and Pipestone Area).
Two AAAA schools are among the South Central Conference (Waseca and New Ulm), while St. James Area is the only AA program. Fairmont, Blue Earth Area and St. Peter all compete in Class AAA.