The Sangamo Conference
is ready to join the likes of Big Ten Conference, SEC and ACC. While that statement may cause a double-take initially, it’s true, as the 11-team conference in the greater Springfield area is following in the footsteps of its collegiate brethren on the broadcasting front.
The conference has banded together to become the first high school conference in the country to form a conference network, as it will broadcast nearly 150 total league football, girls’ volleyball, boys’ basketball and girls’ basketball contests live on the NFHS Network
during the 2016-17 school year.
“We streamed games through an outside vendor for a few years,” said Williamsville High School Athletic Director Adam Eucker, who has been one of key proponents of the conference-wide initiative. “We wanted to bring it into the school and give the kids an opportunity to learn and promote the programs. Some (Sangamo) schools have a broadcasting class, while we incorporated it into our journalism program.”
Despite making a big national statement, the Sangamo Conference
doesn’t feature schools with huge enrollments, as the conference ranges from 475 students (Williamsville) at the top of the spectrum to Athens High School’s 294 students as the smallest league schol.
"Having the Sangamo conference join the School Broadcasting Program with the goal of broadcasting all of their conference events, only makes the NFHS Network and the conference stronger, and provides their fans with the ultimate coverage of their schools,” said NFHS Network President Robert Rothberg.
The conference features Athens, Auburn, Illini Central, Maroa-Forsyth, New Berlin, North Mac, Pittsfield (football only), Pleasant Plains, PORTA, Riverton and Williamsville. Riverton is the lone school expected not to participate in the inaugural network season.
“It’s really cool to be the first conference in the country to do something like this,” said Eucker. “Over 100 games for $60 dollars is a great bang for your buck if you can’t make it to the game. It’s also awesome exposure for our kids, programs and schools.”
Eucker believes an added benefit to the network arrangement is conference unity and stability, noting that the schools will equally split all subscriber revenue.
“The addition of Maroa-Forsyth this year solidifies the Sangamo for a long time,” said Eucker. “This is a league that has a lot of parity and is competitive across the board. We think this conference partnership with the NFHS Network will benefit every school in the conference.”