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Big Eight, Capitol name new conference commissioners; Illinois football lands ex-Madison Memorial athlete Mike Cerniglia Jr.

Big Eight, Capitol name new conference commissioners; Illinois football lands ex-Madison Memorial athlete Mike Cerniglia Jr.

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Jeff Giese completed a 27-year run as Capitol Conference commissioner, and Rich Fronheiser, who’s also commissioner of the Trailways Conference, began handling duties as Capitol Conference commissioner last Thursday, according to Giese.

Jim Polzin is announced as the Lee Sports Wisconsin Columnist, where he will write stories covering all levels of sports throughout the state.

The Big Eight Conference recently named Chris Nicholson as its new conference commissioner, according to Madison Memorial athletic director Jeremy Schlitz, who serves as the Big Eight athletic directors' secretary. 

Nicholson takes over for Eric Bertun.

In the Big Eight, in general terms, the conference commissioner “shall be responsible for coordination of varsity level interscholastic athletic contests within the conference with input from the athletic directors as stated in the by-laws, conference procedures and regulations,” according to the job description. Duties include athletic schedules, officials, meetings and awards.

Illinois football roster includes Cerniglia Jr. 

Former Madison Memorial athlete Mike Cerniglia Jr. is on the 2021 University of Illinois football roster.

Cerniglia, a 6-foot-3, 240-pound tight end, is a Northern Illinois transfer. He’s listed as a freshman. He redshirted and didn’t play in any games as a freshman at Northern Illinois in 2019, according to his Illinois bio.

Mike Cerniglia Jr.

Mike Cerniglia Jr. 

He was a team captain as a senior at Memorial, an All-City offensive selection as a tight end as a junior and senior and earned the team’s offensive MVP award as a senior, according to the Illinois bio.

Bret Bielema, the former football coach at the University of Wisconsin and Arkansas, is Illinois' coach. 


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Jon Masson covers high school sports for the Wisconsin State Journal. He has covered a variety of sports — including the Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin men's and women's basketball and volleyball — since he first came to the State Journal in 1999.

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