By Eric Wade
Nevada Daily Mail
As of Dec. 11, McDonald County's search for a new conference home is over. Effective July 1, 2013, McDonald County will be a member of the Big 8 Conference in everything except sports, with full membership coming the following year.
Though many may look at this revelation and see promise with regard to Nevada's own search for a new conference home, Nevada High School athletic director Kevin McKinley sent out a cautionary note.
"I don't think Nevada can read anything into the Mac County admission into the Big 8 Conference other that what exists on the surface: Mac County's search for a conference home is over while Nevada's search continues," he said.
Since the dissolution of the Southwest Conference in 2007, both schools have been without a conference home, but McDonald County's search has now officially come to an end with the unanimous vote for admission from current Big 8 members. The conference has rejected Nevada for admission a total of four different times.
McKinley said there is no evidence that this new development could change anything between Nevada and the Big 8 and that their argument for voting against admitting Nevada has merit. That argument is simple: location, location, location.
Of the now nine members of the conference, the two closest is Lamar. The bus ride to and from there is an hour and the other eight members are considerably further away.
All hope is not lost, by any stretch, however. Within the past few weeks, McKinley said he has been approached by the West Central Conference that features Kansas City schools Central, St. Pius X and O'Hara, Sedalia Smith-Cotton, Clinton and Warrensburg about its possible desire to expand.
"We continue to look at our options," McKinley said. Nevada was one of several schools they were visiting with. Those talks were very preliminary."
Though McDonald County's admission into the Big 8 could further complicate scheduling issues for McKinley and the Nevada High School and Nevada Middle School athletic departments given the fact that Nevada has 43 major sports events scheduled against Big 8 opponents this year and 15 more against McDonald County -- all of which are likely to be lost with those schools needing more room for conference games in their schedules -- McKinley and the rest of the Nevada R-5 administration haven't given up.
"I am more than a little worried we will be able to fill our schedules starting with the 2014-'15 school year with this latest development," McKinley said. "Remember, folks are watching our reaction to this latest bit of tough news."
Though it is too early to say whether or not talks with the West Central Conference will amount to anything, it isn't hard to see that things don't look good for Nevada when it comes to future scheduled should its independent status remain unchanged. However, McKinley said the search will continue and every effort must be made to help the process along.
"Having everyone buy into the philosophy that when we host or when we travel to our games our fans, students, coaches and athletes are all auditioning for conference acceptance," he said.