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Mason City considering leaving CIML, joining new athletic conference
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Mason City considering leaving CIML, joining new athletic conference

Clear Lake boys basketball vs Mason City, 12-07-20-23.jpg

Mason City's Corey Minor drives past a Clear Lake defender earlier in the year in Clear Lake.

The Mason City Community School District has been a part of the Central Iowa Metro League (CIML) since 1992.

That three-decades long partnership could be coming to an end.

One day after Marshalltown put out a letter stating it intended to create its own conference, Mason City Activities Director Tracy Johnson brought the topic to the board of education meeting on Monday night.

Board meeting

A screenshot of the Mason City Board of Education's Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday night.

Johnson said that Mason City, one of the smallest two schools in the 19-team CIML, would be much more competitive in a different conference.

"We need to do what's best for our student-athletes," Johnson said. "I think Mr. Versteeg and Mr. Long, I think we believe we're in a situation where we believe that this is the right move for us."

Currently broken into three conferences, the CIML has drafted a proposal to turn the league into a two-conference league starting with the 2022-23 academic year. One conference would be dedicated to the nine suburb teams and the other conference would be the other 10 teams.

However, the proposal would require schools in the 10-school non-suburban conference to still play a game against each of the nine suburb teams in certain sports – specifically basketball.

In Marshalltown's letter to superintendents and athletic directors in the CIML, Superintendent Theron J. Schutte listed that non-suburban schools accounted for just 16.5% of CIML wins over the past five years in volleyball, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls basketball, baseball and softball.

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Johnson also brought up the suburbs' success at the board meeting. He stated that leaving for a new conference would give Mason City students a chance at more success, which could result in student participation numbers going up.

Tracy Johnson

A mug of Tracy Johnson, Mason City Activities Director.

"When you get junior high kids at games and they see scores and we're struggling and getting beat by 35 or 40 night in and night out, it's tough," Johnson said. "The kids want to be a part of that. We're the see-me now society with Twitter and all of that stuff. It's a tough look to get kids excited about going out and knowing it's going to be a tough road."

This is not the first time that leaving the CIML has been considered by Mason City.

In the winter of 2019, the district considered joining the Northeast Iowa Conference (NEIC). But the conference put a stop to the application for membership, citing the fact that the conference could become a "super-conference" if Mason City was to join.

Johnson, in his first year as activities director, said he is glad that Mason City didn't end up joining the NEIC.

"I think it's a lose-lose situation for us," Johnson said. "Because if we win the conference, it's, 'oh you're supposed to do that, you're the biggest school in the conference.' If you don't win the conference, well, you're no good."

Mason City Superintendent Dave Versteeg said the board will vote on two agenda items regarding the conference realignment at the board meeting on March 15.

"One is to reject the current proposal to change the CIML," Versteeg said. "We would vote that up or down. Then we would vote to join this new conference, which is still the same 10. But now the 10 are in charge and we don't have the other nine to deal with."

Gunnar Davis covers education and sports. Reach him via email at or by phone 641-421-0598.


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