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Conference Indiana picks up 2 for football

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Conference Indiana dodged major scheduling problems for its football members Wednesday when it announced that Terre Haute North Vigo and Terre Haute South Vigo would be added to the conference as football-only members starting with the next school year.

As well as announcing the addition of the two Terre Haute schools, Conference Indiana also announced that Lawrence Central and Pike, which earlier had decided to leave the conference after the next school year, would be dropped immediately following the current school year.

Lawrence Central and Pike had defected from Conference Indiana to join the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference, which earlier had dropped the Terre Haute schools. Although Conference Indiana schools still would have had Lawrence Central and Pike on their 2013 schedules, it was creating anxiety about the future when few schools showed interest in joining Conference Indiana.

Although Terre Haute is about a two-hour drive from Columbus, North Athletic Director Jeff Hester said the move is a blessing.

“As we looked at our options, going to Terre Haute one time a year and having a set schedule was better than the alternative,” said Hester, who also serves as Conference Indiana president. “We were not going to be able to find anything close.”

Hester had been concerned Columbus North would have to schedule out-of-state teams to fill openings left by the defections of Lawrence Central and Pike.

The inclusion of the Terre Haute schools developed quickly in the past three weeks after three meetings with Conference Indiana’s six schools (Columbus North, Perry Meridian, Bloomington South, Bloomington North, Southport and Franklin Central) and the two Terre Haute schools. The final meeting was Wednesday, when the deal was approved.

Hester said the deal basically is a “two-year trial” as Conference Indiana decides whether to take the two Terre Haute schools into the conference as full members. For the next two years, Terre Haute will be able to participate in non-football conference tournaments as non-scoring members.

“We are going to look at our options,” Hester said. “Can we be creative with our scheduling?”

Although the Terre Haute schools are somewhat isolated, Hester said they were elated at the new deal.

“They are still struggling,” he said. “This was a huge relief to them.”

It also was a relief to Hester.

“I think this is a win-win situation for football,” he said. “It puts their mind at ease about the future of their scheduling, and it fills two holes in our schedule. Other than distance, this is a great fit athletically and academically.”

Terre Haute North was 6-5 last season in football, while Terre Haute South finished 3-7.

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