Thursday, July 15, 2010
Oklahoma Schools Leaving Lone Star
It seems conference realignment's starting to shake NCAA Division 2 to its core...the excerpt below was compiled by my former colleague at Fort Hays State, Gerard Wellbrock of Eagle Radio, up in Kansas. While not on the grand scale of Division 1 realignment, this is far more interesting to follow for me because of my past work with the D2 ranks, and RSU's impending move to that level.
"The Lone Star Conference says three of its Oklahoma members plan to withdraw from the NCAA Division 2 league. Conference commissioner Stan Wagnon says the league has been notified that East Central University in Ada, Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant and Southwestern Oklahoma State in Weatherford are leaving the conference, effective June 2012."
"The presidents of the three schools met last Friday with leaders of six Arkansas Division 2 schools to discuss the possibility of forming a new conference in an attempt to reduce travel. Last month, MIAA presidents received letters from Central Oklahoma and Northeastern State."
Now, I gotta believe RSU would fit in beautifully with the new Oklahoma/Arkansas league that's about to form. But, it begs the question...what on God's green Earth is NSU in Tahlequah thinking? UCO might be on a different plane because of its much higher enrollment in Edmond, but it'll be a PR disaster for NSU to join the MIAA. Not only will the RiverHawks not win, but they'll forfeit natural in-state rivalries that have been in place for decades. They'll also absolutely be lost in the shuffle once Okla. schools join up with this new conference. While NSU's busy meandering its way to such fine locales like Kirksville, MO...Omaha, NE...and Emporia, KS, everyone in Oklahoma that follows small colleges will be discussing this new league with potentially as many as 7 or 8 schools from the Sooner State all stealing the headlines (if there are any to be stolen). RSU would be a great fit for the new league once the jump to D2 is made, and the travel and external costs incurred will be much less than joining the Heartland Conference. Plus, you stay out of the state of Texas in conference play.
Look, NSU is doing the exact opposite of what Fort Hays State did in 2005...FHSU went the common-sense approach. It moved out of a conference it never really belonged in (Rocky Mountain) and moved to a league with members it used to compete against regularly back in the day (The MIAA). Some folks need to realize that even at D2 football-playing schools, all sports are essentially non-revenue. The #1 objective should be to look out for the almighty budget. RSU's brass is definitely going about all this in the right manner. And, I'm blessed to be a very small part of it.