Saint Paul City Conference

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Saint Paul City Conference
Saint Paul Public Schools (logo).jpg
Classification MSHSL
Headquarters Saint Paul, Minnesota
Region  Minnesota
Founded 1898
No. of members 7

The Saint Paul City Conference is the athletic conference for seven high schools in the city of Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States. Much like the divisions in professional sports, the Saint Paul City Conference is one of many in the state that divides schools in close proximity into different conferences.[1] It is the second oldest conference in the state behind the Minneapolis City Conference. The conference officially began on Friday, October 28, 1898 when Central High School and Mechanic Arts High School played the first football game between the schools.[2]


Institution Location (Population) Founded Joined City Conference Affiliation Enrollment Nickname
Central High School Saint Paul, Minnesota
1866 1898 Public 2,124 Minutemen
Como Park High School Saint Paul, Minnesota
1979 1979 Public 1,528 Cougars
Harding Senior High School Saint Paul, Minnesota
1926 1926 Public 2,070 Knights
Highland Park High School Saint Paul, Minnesota
1964 1964 Public 1,469 Scots
Humboldt Senior High School Saint Paul, Minnesota
1889 1898 Public 858 Hawks
(formerly the Indians)
Johnson Senior High School Saint Paul, Minnesota
1897 1898 Public 1,887 Governors
Washington Technology Magnet School Saint Paul, Minnesota
2012 Public 2080 (6-12) Eagles
Former member Location (Population) Founded Member of City Conference Affiliation Enrollment Nickname
Arlington Senior High School Saint Paul, Minnesota
1996 1997-2011 Public 875 Phoenix
Cretin-Derham Hall High School Saint Paul, Minnesota
1871 1977-2003 Private/Catholic 1,318 Raiders
Saint Thomas Academy Mendota Heights, Minnesota
1885 1977-1987 Private/Catholic 704 Cadets
Hill-Murray School Maplewood, Minnesota
1958 1977-1987 Private/Catholic 1,025 Pioneers

Membership timeline[edit]

Washington Technology Magnet School Arlington Senior High School Como Park Senior High School Cretin-Derham Hall High School Saint Thomas Academy Hill-Murray School Highland Park High School (Minnesota) Wilson High School (Saint Paul, Minnesota) Murray Junior High School (Minnesota) Monroe High School (Saint Paul, Minnesota) Marshall High School (Saint Paul, Minnesota) Harding Senior High School (St. Paul, Minnesota) Washington High School (Saint Paul, Minnesota) Mechanic Arts High School (Saint Paul, Minnesota) Humboldt Senior High School Johnson Senior High School (St. Paul, Minnesota) Central High School (Saint Paul, Minnesota)


The conference originally had four members: Central, Cleveland, Humboldt and Mechanic Arts. In 1911, Cleveland High School changed its name to Johnson High School, and in the 1920s Washington High School and Harding High School joined the conference. In 1941 the smaller high schools of Marshall High School, Monroe High School, Murray High School and Wilson High School were added to the conference, bringing the number of schools in the conference to ten. In 1953, Marshall closed as a senior high and ten years later, Wilson would also close, with most of its students attending the newly builtHighland Park High School. In 1976, one of its original members, Mechanic Arts, was closed, and in a span of two years from 1977 to 1978, Monroe, Washington, and Murray high schools would do the same. Most of the students from Washington and Murray were incorporated into Como Park Senior High School.

Addition and dropping of private schools[edit]

In 1977, the conference added four private schools from the Saint Paul area: Cretin, Derham Hall, Hill-Murray and St. Thomas Academy. The decision to admit the schools had mixed support. The Saint Paul School Board approved the addition 7-0 while the St. Paul Athletic Council voted against the addition as well as the City Conference Coaches 95-4. In January 1986 the Saint Paul Athletic Council and the Public Schools coaches both voted to drop the four private schools and have a six team public school conference. Coaches were concerned that the private schools were winning a disproportionate amount of conference titles and had several unfair advantages.[3] The private schools were able to attract students from throughout the Metro Area while the public schools were limited to neighborhood boundaries. In April of that year the Saint Paul School Board voted 5-1 to drop Hill-Murray and Saint Thomas Academy. The board acted on a March recommendation by the Saint Paul Public Schools superintendent and a two-year study by the Saint Paul Public School Coaches' Association. Cretin High School and Derham Hall High School were allowed to remain because they were located within the Saint Paul City limits.[4][5] The vote also let St. Bernard's, St. Agnes and St. Paul Academy join the Conference if the desired although they all were in different athletic conferences.[6]

The decision allowed Saint Thomas Academy and Hill-Murray to remain for the 1986-1987 school year and guaranteed them a non-conference schedule during the 1987-1988 school year but forced them to find a new conference for the 1989-1990 school year or to schedule games as an independent.[6] Hill-Murray and Saint Thomas Academy applied for entry into the Twin Cities Federation or Umbrella Conference, then a twenty three school athletic conference split into three distinct conferences. Hill-Murray was accepted into the North Suburban division while Saint Thomas Academy was rejected for not meeting the criteria of the original twenty three schools.[7] Saint Thomas Academy applied twice to seven different conferences but was rejected by all of them including the Saint Paul Suburban Conference three times.[8] A month after Hill-Murray and St. Thomas were dropped the Minnesota State Legislature held a legislative task force to discuss the Minnesota State High School League's role in placing school's in athletic conferences. The MSHSL stated that they did not want the authority to do so.[9][10] However, in the following year in the Spring of 1987 the Minnesota State Legislature passed a law requiring the Minnesota State High School League to place a high school in a conference if certain conditions were met.[11][12] Eventually in the Spring of 1988, the Minnesota State High School league placed Saint Thomas Academy in the Saint Paul Suburban Conference, a member of the Twin Cities Federation[8][13][14]

Dropping of Cretin[edit]

In 1987 Cretin and Derham Hall merged into a co-ed facility to form Cretin-Derham Hall High School. In September 1996 the athletic directors of the seven public high schools voted to recommend the exclusion of Cretin when the new Arlington High School began competing in varsity sports for the 1997-1998 season. Whenever the public school coaches were polled about removing Cretin they were overwhelmingly in favor.[15][16] They offered to allow Cretin play the conference as an independent and as a result not be eligible for Conference titles or awards. The following spring the Saint Paul Public Schools superintendent decided not to bring the issue to the school board, which had the authority to drop Cretin. The superintendent cited that the issue was too political to remove the only Catholic school in a heavily Catholic city. He also reasoned that it would be better to improve the competitive level of the public schools including the elementary and junior high sports teams. That plan would have cost seven figures and was quickly discarded.[17] In the fall of 1998 Cretin expressed interest in joining a new athletic conference.[18] In 1999 supporters of Humboldt High School asked the Saint Paul Public Schools superintendent to either remove Cretin or find a new conference for Humboldt to compete in because of the large gap in talent.[19][20][21] A month later the public school's athletic directors agreed to support a proposal to remove Cretin for the 2000-2001 school year. Cretin applied at the same time to the now defunct St. Paul Suburban Conference.[22][23]

In March 2002 Cretin began making steps away from the Saint Paul City Conference. The football team announced plans to compete as an independent beginning in the fall of 2002.[24][25] The team later agreed to play the Classic Lake Conference schools in 2003 and 2004 as an independent.[26] After the 2002-2003 season, Cretin-Derham Hall left the conference and began competition in the Suburban East Conference.[27] Nine conferences had rejected Cretin before the Minnesota State High School league placed Cretin in the Suburban East Conference.[28] The Suburban East Conference and Cretin both appealed the decision but it was upheld.[29] Cretin had wanted to be placed in the Classic Suburban Conference.[30]

Recent history[edit]

The most recent addition was in 1996 when the newly built Arlington Senior High School joined. Arlington did not compete at the varsity level in athletics until the fall of 1997.[2]

Twin Cities Conference[edit]

In 1985 Minneapolis proposed merging the Saint Paul and Minneapolis City Conferences. One plan had a two division alignment with Saint Paul and Minneapolis schools in separate divisions. The ease at scheduling non-conference games with teams from the other division was seen as acceptable to Minneapolis officials.[3] The proposal did not happen but talks returned the following year when the Saint Paul City Conference was planning to remove the four private schools from the conference. At that time the scheduling proposal was seen as being more restrictive and not favorable to Minneapolis administrators.[31] Saint Paul ended the possibility several months later in April 1986 when the Saint Paul Public School Board voted to withdraw its invitation for the Minneapolis City Conference to join with the Saint Paul schools for a Twin Cities Conference.[5]


  1. ^ See Minnesota High School conferences
  2. ^ a b "History". Saint Paul City Conference. Retrieved 2007-09-16. 
  3. ^ a b Brackin, Dennis (January 9, 1986). "St. Paul athletic council approves creation of public-school league". Star Tribune. 
  4. ^ Moton, Tony (April 16, 1986). "St. Paul votes to oust Hill-Murray, Tommies". Star Tribune. 
  5. ^ a b Moton, Tony (April 10, 1986). "Board to vote on St. Paul league proposal". Star Tribune. 
  6. ^ a b Moton, Tony (April 17, 1986). "Ouster no surprise to Hill-Murray principal". Star Tribune. 
  7. ^ Moton, Tony (October 15, 1986). "Pioneers in; Cadets denied Umbrella". Star Tribune. 
  8. ^ a b Augustoviz, Roman (February 4, 1988). "St. Thomas placed in St. Paul Suburban". Star Tribune. 
  9. ^ Moton, Tony (May 8, 1986). "Panel to discuss prep league obligations". Star Tribune. 
  10. ^ Whereatt (May 13, 1986). "H.S. league balks at assigning conferences". Star Tribune. 
  11. ^ "If a school is forced out of a conference and makes a good effort to find another for 180 days, it gives the high school league the power to conduct hearings with all of those schools that may be affected. Then, after 60 days, it would have the power to assign a school to a conference. Any action, in terms of that bill, would not take effect until the '88-89 school year." Moton, Tony (May 7, 1987). "St. Thomas hopes bill will cure problems". Star Tribune. 
  12. ^ Moton, Tony (May 14, 1987). "League affiliation bill to aid independents". Star Tribune. 
  13. ^ Fermoyle, Mike (March 23, 1988). "Cadets' Move Could Come This Week". Saint Paul Pioneer Press. 
  14. ^ Fermoyle, Mike (April 7, 1988). "St. Thomas Closer to Finding a League". Saint Paul Pioneer Press. 
  15. ^ Augustoviz, Roman (September 14, 1996). "Cretin -DH may be forced from St. Paul Conference". Star Tribune. 
  16. ^ Fermoyle, Mike (September 14, 1996). "St. Paul's Athletic Directors Vote to Oust Cretin-Derham". Saint Paul Pioneer Press. 
  17. ^ Fermoyle, Mike (February 11, 1997). "Life in the Big City Still Includes Cretin-Derham Hall". Saint Paul Pioneer Press. 
  18. ^ Wells, Jim (October 2, 1998). "Conference Changes Give Cretin Choices". Saint Paul Pioneer Press. 
  19. ^ Wells, Jim (September 22, 1999). "Focus on Humboldt-Cretin Inequity". Saint Paul Pioneer Press. 
  20. ^ Augustoviz, Roman (September 22, 1999). "High School Notes – Cretin's league dominance raises concerns". Star Tribune. 
  21. ^ Dohrmann, George (September 26, 1999). "Against All Odds//Harding Hasn't Had a Winning Football Program for Years and Hasn't Beaten Cretin-Derham Since 1981 Many Say the Raiders Should Leave the City Conference. But for Now, the Knights Focus Only on Their Dream". Saint Paul Pioneer Press. 
  22. ^ Wells, Jim (October 13, 1999). "City Conference Athletics Directors Seek Cretin-Derham Hall's Ouster". Saint Paul Pioneer Press. 
  23. ^ "Cretin-Derham Sports//When School Always Wins, Everyone Loses". Saint Paul Pioneer Press. October 19, 1999. 
  24. ^ Leighton, Tim (March 22, 2002). "Cretin-Derham Steps Away From City". Saint Paul Pioneer Press. 
  25. ^ Augustoviz, Roman (March 23, 2002). "Notrs – Cretin football team to go independent". Star Tribune. 
  26. ^ "Cretin-Derham Hall 'Joins' Football League". Saint Paul Pioneer Press. May 8, 2002. 
  27. ^ Cretin-Derham Conference Rejection, Forest Lake Times. February 18, 2004.
  28. ^ Wells, Jim (January 15, 2004). "Conference Orphan – Cretin-Derham Hall Has Been Turned Down for Admittance by Nine Conferences – The MSHSL Will Soon Decide Its Fate". Saint Paul Pioneer Press. 
  29. ^ Wells, Jim (February 14, 2004). "Cretin-DH Appeals Move". Saint Paul Pioneer Press. 
  30. ^ Augustoviz, Roman (April 14, 2004). "Cretin -Derham Hall going to Suburban East". Star Tribune. 
  31. ^ Brackin, Dennis (January 30, 1986). "City unlikely to accept St. Paul schedule proposal". Star Tribune. 

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