The transition period is coming to an end, I keep talking about it because I am so damn excited. It is about time, I felt like this would never come. With this time finally coming, I feel like the question of “should the Summit League add a 10th member” be asked. Should the Summit League add a 10th member? 10 makes sense, right? With only 9 teams you assume that one team would be left out of the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. With 10, you feel like everyone would get included and have the two first round games like the Missouri Valley Conference does.
Summit League Commissioner, Tom Douple, has stated before that he likes to keep these things quiet. No one was really aware of Denver coming to the Summit League until it was announced, the same goes about Oral Roberts returning to the conference, and the UNO making the reclassification was for the most part under wraps until it was announced. It is not like the Summit League is one that is going to get a bunch of buzz in the rumor mill on ESPN for the nation to discuss, so we are never going to hear the chatter that conferences like the Big 10, SEC, and Big 12 are going to get with all the schools moving around. So i am going to throw out a few suggestions for teams that could be added, and most of these are based on geography. The Summit League is not some prestigious conference like the WAC that can schools be 1500 miles apart from each other. Not that these should be the only suggestions, but here…
The Cougars would make sense in terms of geography, but they are kind of bad at…well, everything. The athletic department is still in the process of developing a soccer team, so this could be attractive to the Summit League. The Cougars have been attempting to get more recognition for their sports program, but Chicago is a city that cares way more about professional sports than they do college sports. It is tough for them to schedule non-conference games, the basketball team was only able to schedule two home games against division one opponents in 2014-2015, UNO and Depaul. Their facilities are not terrible, their basketball arena has a capacity of 7000 Depaul, which you would think draw in a crowd, only had an attendance of 750 fans, so that is the level of support the Cougars have. The WAC is weird, no teams are within driving distance to Chicago, so I imagine it is pretty difficult for any Chicago natives to really get into an intense Chicago State-New Mexico State match up. Essentially, Chicago State probably needs the Summit League more than the Summit League needs Chicago State. I saw on a South Dakota State fan forum, which is super educational, that the University of Denver absolutely hates Chicago State and does not want them in The Summit. No idea if that is true, or what it could even be over.
The Panthers are probably more than happy in the Ohio Valley, but maybe there could be a conversation since EIU already plays in the Summit League in soccer.
This would be a long shot, but I seem to hear a rumor every year that the Purple Aces are trying to get out of the Missouri Valley, though much of the rumors are for them to head to the Horizon League, who like the Summit League, also is at 9 members. From a competitive standpoint, Evansville is routinely in the middle of the pack in the Missouri Valley standings for all of their sports, so it is not like they would come into the Summit and just dominate everything, but they certainly could add some attention and a little intrigue to the Summit.
Still no real idea why the Kangaroos left the Summit. I still think the WAC is the dumbest conference of all. It makes no sense to have UMKC do all the traveling that they do. With Omaha and Oral Roberts in the conference now, UMKC would not have nearly as many travel issues as they do in the WAC. The ‘Roos certainly bring a tiny more prestige to the Summit than a Chicago State. Omaha-UMKC could have a little bit of a rivalry. The ‘Roos are getting a little more community support as Kareem Richardson is strengthening the basketball program. Who would really be better between UMKC and Chicago State? I will base this on a very tiny piece of evidence. The top team in the WAC this last season was New Mexico State. New Mexico State @ UMKC attendance was 2900. New Mexico State @ Chicago State attendance was 530.
The Bears would make sense geographically and could create a travel partner with Denver. Northern Colorado would have to stay in the Big Sky as an affiliate member for football, or get into the Missouri Valley. They already have wrestling in a separate conference since the Big Sky does not have wrestling. They also no have men’s soccer. So I mean, they could drop football and wrestling, and add men’s soccer. I have heard of schools doing that before and it going over very well with ALL fans…
Only if North Dakota State were to leave the conference for whatever reason. I cannot stress this enough. The Bison have a new statue coming of a giant hand with its middle finger pointing toward the sky, the hand is along I-29 and facing North toward Grand Forks. In recent news, the North Dakota men’s basketball team added Wheeler Baker, an Albany transfer. Some of his offers out of high school included North Dakota State, South Dakota State, and Omaha.
SE Missouri State:
I typed their name in because of geography and it just kind of came to mind. I really knew nothing about SE Missouri State, and then I looked up and researched their athletic department and I immediately regretted suggesting this.
Some possible schools to transition to division one.
Russellville is about a 3 hour drive to Tulsa, a 8 hour drive to Omaha, and a 8 hour drive to Macomb so it is not like the travel for this school would be impossible to the Summit League. Arkansas is a very underrated state as far as beautiful geography goes, but teams do not get into conferences just based on how pretty their state is…I mean North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Oklahoma are just…um, terrible to drive through. While their sports teams are pretty competitive in division two, they do not have many sports. The football team could possibly be dropped, and men’s soccer could be added. Not sure if the state of Arkansas even knows what soccer is though.
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs:
With an undergraduate enrollment of 12k and a graduate enrollment of 11k, a close drive to Denver, and with all the sports that the Summit League has, it makes sense, right? Their men’s and their women’s basketball teams are both well established in division two, they might both currently be better than a few of the Summit League teams…ouch.
I have heard rumors before of these Mavericks debating of making the transition to division one. The geography checks out for them to join the Summit League. Their men’s basketball team has some division one talent on the roster as well. Not sure if they would want to bring football with them as well to division one, as part of the rumors that I have heard would be that they would drop football. The MSU baseball team is 40-5 so far this year. That sounds decent, I guess. Could there be two Mavericks in the same league though? That sounds ridiculous. The SEC has three freaking Tigers, but the SEC can do whatever they want.
I am seriously kidding.
St Cloud State:
I have not heard many rumors of this school going division one, but it is something that is not incredibly impossible. St Cloud State has an undergraduate enrollment of 15k, they are in the geography of the Summit League. Like the MSU Mavericks, they would create a more competitive recruiting market for the Summit League. With no mid-major in the state of Minnesota, the Bison, Jackrabbits, Coyotes, and Mavericks like to recruit the area, adding St Cloud State or MSU would add another school into the mix for the area, could they all share that area? Oh, their baseball team this year 47-3. Why do I keep mentioning baseball? Because the Summit League needs some more baseball. The Huskies have 21 varsity sports, I am guessing with a move to division one that they would have to drop a few of those. I am not sure that they are willing to pull that trigger. I feel like the Summit League has had at least one conversation with MSU and St Cloud State of “so what if?”