IUPUI leaving the conference creates some problems, or really just brings some problems to light. The Jaguars cited geography as their primary reason for wanting to leave the Summit league.
When you look at a map of the Summit League and compare it to other small conferences, yeah, it’s looks pretty rough. The schools along I-29 don’t have it too bad, but travel costs look a little difficult for Denver, Oral Roberts, Fort Wayne, and Western Illinois.
The lack of travel partners made things difficult for teams in basketball. Someone might luck out one week if they traveled to Vermillion on a Thursday and then play in Brookings on that Saturday, but for the most part teams would get to travel to Fort Wayne for a Wednesday night game and then head to Brookings for a Saturday night game. The current President of the United States would call that a “total disaster.”
When North Dakota joins the league*, teams will consider it lucking out when they get to spend a half a week in the states of South Dakota or North Dakota, but someone like Fort Wayne could have to deal with flying to Omaha and then getting on a plane the following morning and flying to Tulsa for a Saturday game.
*Will the Summit League ever give us the ultimate North Dakota-Omaha weekend?
- Thursday night: North Dakota vs Omaha women’s basketball
- Friday night: North Dakota vs Omaha hockey
- Saturday noon: North Dakota vs Omaha men’s basketball
- Saturday night: North Dakota vs Omaha hockey
That might make this whole division one transition experiment worth it.
Can the Summit League also consider the traveling fans? The South Dakota schools are pretty close to Omaha and it’s not too difficult for the fans to travel to away games in these match ups. So why is South Dakota playing at Omaha on a Wednesday night? South Dakota fans do not want to leave Vermillion or Sioux Falls to get to Omaha at 7 pm on a Wednesday night, and then get back in the car and get home late at night. Games with that proximity should always be played on Saturdays if we’re going to have this wacky Wednesday and Saturday scheduling system.
Fort Wayne is in a weird place. I assume they are trying to get all the Horizon League members together and frame UIC for murder to open up a spot for the Mastodons. Let’s get the Farewell cards ready for their potential exit. While the ‘Dons would be missed, we’d understand their situation. I’ll also no longer have to debate that 10 hour drive or $500 flight to watch a sporting event.
Fort Wayne would also appear to be in a better situation if they got placed into the Ohio Valley. They’d still be pretty far away from most of the schools in the OVC, but they would be closer than most of the schools in the Summit League.
Denver also creates a bit of a travel problem for schools. The city has a major airport, but I can imagine it can be difficult for someone like Omaha or North Dakota State to drive to Vermillion and then cart their stuff to fly out of Sioux Falls to Denver, then fly from Denver back home. This cuts me to the core to say, but you have to keep Denver happy and in the conference, right? Their damn soccer team is just too good to let go.
Denver fans appear to hate that the conference is South Dakota based, so I’m sure their blood is boiling now considering that Augustana is considering making a jump to Division 1.
So are there any current D-1 schools to add to the Summit League to help out this geography problem?
Average distance to each WAC school: ALL OF THE SOUTHWEST RAPID REWARD POINTS
Average distance to each Summit League school: 570 miles
Pros: 1) Travel partner for Fort Wayne (assuming the ‘Dons stay). 2) Chicago is neat. 3) They have all the sports that the Summit League has and wouldn’t have to find a league as an affiliate member for football, wrestling, men’s volleyball, or whatever.
Cons: Their basketball team won six games last year. One of them was against Billy Wright and Western Illinois! They also played at Creighton a few years ago.
Average distance to each Big Sky school: 817 miles
Average distance to each Summit League school: 698 miles
Pros: 1) The Bears could add a travel partner for Denver. 2) Could add a baseball team to the Summit League (they currently play in the WAC for baseball) 3) Weekend trip to Denver/Greeley!
Cons: Would they join the MVC for football, stay in the Big Sky for football? What to do!
Average distance to each WAC school: HAHAHAHAHAHA
Average distance to each Summit League school: 438 miles
Pros: 1) Travel partner for Omaha. 2) Big airport for the Pioneers to go to and not complain about it. 3) Another city that could compete to have the conference basketball tournaments in. 4) UMKC could actually see a spike in attendance when traveling fans from the South Dakota schools and Omaha travel to Kansas City.
Cons: 2) They might be okay in some sport some day, right?