ELKHART — The Northern Indiana Conference has taken different shapes in its many decades of high school athletics.
Elkhart Memorial, South Bend LaSalle and South Bend Jackson are memories. Goshen, LaPorte and Michigan City are way distant memories.
But in less than two years, the NIC will get another face lift.
With a vote of the league board on Wednesday, April 23, the NIC decided to add Jimtown, Glenn, Bremen and New Prairie beginning with the 2015-'16 school year. Late in 2013, four NSC schools — LaVille, Triton, Knox and Culver — announced it would leave to join a league of smaller schools in a newly-configured Midwest Conference.
The move now puts the NIC at 13 schools, joining Elkhart Central, Penn, Mishawaka, Mishawaka Marian, South Bend St. Joseph, and South Bend public schools Adams, Washington, Clay and Riley in a two-division setup.
"It's a real opportunity for us to be part of a true Michiana conference, inside and outside the U.S. 20 beltway,'' said Jimtown athletic director Nathan Dean.
Jimtown (which has a little under 600 students), Bremen, Glenn and New Prairie gave brief presentations on their successes and assets to the NIC board of control on Wednesday.
"We went in unified. I think we're going to be one of the premier power conferences in the state, big to small," Dean said. "The NIC sees the immediate advantages, the exposure, the corporate stuff. It provides a level of diversity they haven't had in awhile.
"I know the South Bend schools are excited about having the opportunity to play some new people. All four NSC schools have played NIC schools in something over the years."
The NSC had maintained eight schools since 1989, when Bremen joined after a long stint in the Northern Lakes Conference.
The last significant changes in the NIC game in 2003 as Marian and St. Joe, longtime independents, entered the league. Elkhart Memorial left the NIC for the NLC after the 1999-2000 school year.