ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — The Northwest Upstate Illini Conference is welcoming a new member school. Morrison High School in Whiteside County is going to be joining the conference.
NUIC Vice President Pete Robertson the athletic director at Durand tells me that the conference extended an invitation to Morrison in April to join the NUIC. Last night the Morrison Board of Education voted to accept the invitation. Robertson tells me the plan is for Morrison to join the NUIC in all sports starting in 2025.
Morrison is currently a member of the Three Rivers Athletic Conference. The addition of Morrison will fill a big need for the NUIC. It will once again give the conference ten schools that play 11-man football. The recent move toward eight-man football by several NUIC schools dwindled the conference down to nine schools that play 11-man. By having ten teams again, NUIC schools can play a full regular season 9-game schedule of conference games and not have to fill one week with a non-conference opponent.
Morrison’s football program won Class 2A state championships in 2009 and 2011. It then went through a stretch of losing seasons before bouncing back last fall to make the playoffs in Class 1A.
Morrison’s enrollment of 279 students makes it a good fit for the NUIC. In terms of football, that makes it the fourth largest school in the conference behind Du-Pec, EPC, and West Carroll and just ahead of Fulton.
Gregg Dolan, the athletic director at Morrison sent me the following statement in an email:
“We will be joining for the 2024-2025 school year for all sports. As the TRAC (Three Rivers Athletic Conference) conference has grown over the past several years so has the enrollment numbers for the schools being added and an increase to the travel time to the new schools. Those two reasons are the primary reasons for the changing of conferences. We will be playing teams closer to our enrollment and hopefully reduce our travel time.”
“The NUIC like the TRAC conference has a storied tradition with its sports programs and we are looking forward to the new challenges of competing in a great and competitive conference. As one of the founding members of the TRAC conference the district took a long look at what would best for our student athletes in the future and felt this was the right time to change conferences. We have enjoyed our time and the relationships we have built over the past several decades with some of the current TRAC members and now looking to build similar relationships with the schools we will be competing against in the NUIC.”
Again, Morrison will compete in all sports in the NUIC. Robertson tells me that Morrison’s non-football sports teams will compete in the NUIC South which means one of the current schools in the South Division will be moving to the North Division. Robertson says it hasn’t been decided yet which school will be making that move.
I’ve reached out to several athletic directors in the NUIC. They’re telling me they expect to learn more about the addition of Morrison Wednesday when they have their end-of-the-year AD meeting.