Providence, deciding not to go independent, has formed the IMAC with five former Tri-Metro schools. -Lila Anderson

Providence, deciding not to go independent, has joined five former Tri-Metro schools to form the Independent Metro Athletic Conference. -Lila Anderson

Providence Academy announced today that it will join Blake, Breck, Minnehaha Academy, Saint Paul Academy, and Mounds Park Academy in a new athletic conference, which will begin play in the fall.

Providence Academy announced in October 2013 that it would withdraw from the Tri-Metro Conference for the 2014-2015 school year. The conference’s size, which had grown to 16 to include three large schools next year, had been the major reason for pulling out of the conference, according to Mr. Kurt Jaeger, PA Athletic Director.

After the announcement, the PAW reported that PA would  be operating its sports teams independently, playing and advancing to state-level competition without a traditional conference schedule. Today, the six schools that simultaneously announced their departure from the Tri-Metro announced that they have joined to form the Independent Metro Athletic Conference (IMAC).

Despite no conference ties to the schools left in the Tri-Metro, PA will maintain an athletic relationship with many of them, competing against them in many sports.

“The schedules for next year are 95% done” for fall and winter sports, said Mr. Jaeger. “There’s a mix of folks from the existing Tri-Metro that we’ll continue to play.”

Mr. Jaeger said that he does not think Tri-Metro schools continue to harbor bitter feelings toward the IMAC schools for the decision.

“When we first pulled out, it wasn’t well-received by everybody,” he said. “I think they’ve moved on. I certainly hope this doesn’t cause anybody to have any ill-feeling.”

Mr. Jaeger explained the philosophy behind the IMAC.

“We’re well-suited for these schools because of size and academic focus,” he said. In the official April 14 press release, Mr. Jaeger said, “we will work closely together to achieve an appropriate balance with regard to athletic competition and athletics.”

Minnehaha’s Athletic Director, Homer Ramirez, stated, “Forming the IMAC provides a level of scheduling flexibility, as well as an opportunity to honor all student-athletes in an equitable manner.”

The smaller size, Mr. Jaeger, Mr. Ramirez, and their colleagues at the other four IMAC schools said, ensures a similar prioritizing of academics plus more chances for individual recognitions like All-Conference, due to the exclusion of vastly larger schools.

Mr. Jaeger brought up the importance of school enrollment in athletic matchups, saying, “If you know your team’s going to get killed, there’s not a lot of incentive for fans to come out and watch that.”

In the wake of what he said was uncertainty about going independent in the PA community, Mr. Jaeger anticipates that “there will be fewer questions and more relief.”

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