Tag Archives: Horizon League

The 345 Challenge

Greetings readers,

This post is about something I found on StumbleUpon and thought you, the reader, might enjoy. I found this quiz and thought those of you College Basketball fans would like to give it a try. It’s located on JetPunk.com, which has a lot of quizzes out there for the general public.

This quiz has the taker to list all Division I schools that play basketball. Currently, there are 345 schools the quiz asks for.

It is a tough feat to list all of the teams on the quiz. I will admit, I’ve only made it to about 80% filled. You get twenty minutes to guess all 345.

Give it a try! If college basketball isn’t your thing, check this link out and take another sports quiz.

Source of information from StumbleUpon and jetpunk.com.

Until next time,

-Lee

Another One in the Division

Greetings readers,

Could we see another NCAA Division I program in the Cincinnati area? If Northern Kentucky plans everything right, they might be marching into the biggest field of college sports. That’s right, the Norse are planning to invade your brackets by 2015.

Northern Kentucky is just south of Interstate 471, which connects I-71 in Cincinnati to I-275 near Wilder, Kentucky (where the Cincinnati Kings outdoor soccer team plays [which might be a topic on my blog soon.]) From what I heard, it’s one of the best soccer programs in the nation and is also home to an excellent softball team that went 55-2 a few seasons ago.

From the NKU Beta site, the talks to bump up a division have existed since 1995.

Just as a little bit of history of Northern Kentucky: the university was born in 1968 as Northern Kentucky State College. The university changed names in 1976. Sports have been a part of the university since 1971. The first game was a basketball game against Calvary College, which was a 109-65 victory for the Norsemen. Several programs would be born during this time, including the women’s soccer program in 1997. The Bank of Kentucky Center opened in 2008 with an exhibition match against the Louisville Cardinals.

While the plans are to eventually move up to Division I, where would NKU play in terms of a conference? Going back to the first link, the two ideas floating around are the Horizon League and the Ohio Valley Conference. With the Ohio Valley Conference, you have three schools already in Kentucky (Morehead State, Murray State, and Eastern Kentucky.) The Horizon League would be making their debut in Kentucky if NKU was accepted, but would also add a Cincinnati school to the league for the first time since Xavier was in the league before 1996.

The rumor of NKU joining the Horizon League has been swirling around, but most people disagree that it would be a natural fit. Coming from Wright State, I can tell you having an even amount of teams is a nice thing. However, not all schools have every sport in the league. So either you add another school to make basketball have even teams (which could be an interesting topic to talk about later) or deal with an odd number of teams for basketball and even out the rest of the sports.

While the new venues are nice at NKU, is it enough to jump to the top division in the NCAA? Only time will tell.

Source of information from Northern Kentucky’s website and WXIX FOX 19 Cincinnati.

Until next time,

-Lee

Vikings Drop the Baseball

Greetings readers,

It’s a sad day for the Cleveland State baseball program, as the university has decided to cut the program after this season after 79 seasons. The decision was made by the university for budget reasons. According to the article from cleveland.com, this will save CSU about $450,000.

This will not affect the Vikings’ membership in the Horizon League or in NCAA Division I. The Horizon League doesn’t require schools to have a baseball program, and the minimum amount of teams to play in D-I is fourteen.

It is a sad day for fans of college baseball when you see a team pack it up and call it quits. However, there were a few things that made it somewhat difficult to follow Vikings baseball (at least away from the internet.)

The Vikings played at All Pro Freight Stadium in Avon, which is twenty miles away from Cleveland State. Before the move a few seasons back, CSU played at Pipe Yard Stadium in Lorain, which was thirty-some miles away. Not the easiest trip to make, day in and day out. While playing at Progressive Field would have been nice for the Vikings (and a lot closer), the costs would be through the roof unless the Cleveland Indians and the University could reach a deal. Unlikely? Probably, but still would have been neat to see.

Another reason is the lack of success that the Vikings have had. Cleveland State has failed to record a winning season since 1989, when the Vikings went 24-21. The Green and White got close to winning seasons a few times since then (like going 23-26 in 1993, and 22-24 in 1991.) That is not a knock on anyone who has played or coached, that is just stating the facts right out of the media guide.

Once CSU disbands the baseball program, the Horizon League will only have six teams playing baseball. I once heard that the minimum amount of teams that the conference requires to sponsor a sport was six. Detroit (UDM) was the last university to disband their program in the HL, after the 2004 season for budget reasons. While this makes it possible for teams to play each other twice in a season at each venue again (some schools only see each other once in the regular season), it is the borderline number to keep the sport in the conference. What if someone decides to drop before the 2012 season? Will baseball soon become history in the Horizon League?

As a former Sports Director at Wright State, I have seen the Raiders and Vikings play ball several games. While most have been wins for Wright State, the Vikings have always had some great talent. I remember one Josh Hungerman playing for CSU before becoming a member of the Colorado Rockies farm system. He was a starting pitcher, who would later become the DH for CSU. Currently, Anthony Sambula (see picture) is about to graduate from Cleveland State as a senior and has snagged a few HL Pitcher of the Week awards in 2011.

As a positive for the league, it is nice to see five teams in the league at home and away once again. As a possibility for scheduling, the traveling teams could be the Ohio teams of Wright State and Youngstown State, followed by the Indiana schools of Valparaiso and Butler, then pair up UIC and Milwaukee together for baseball. Another positive is that all the players currently on CSU’s roster will be able to play somewhere else without waiting a year.

Despite no winning seasons since 1989, I will still miss the away gray pinstripes of the Cleveland State Vikings playing at Wright State. I will miss the Vikings taking the diamond at Nischwitz Stadium, wearing the green alternative jerseys with a font that looks like Cincinnati’s (the Bearcats, not the Reds.)

As a closing note, I want to wish everyone in that organization nothing but the best in their futures. You have bright futures ahead, keep your head up and play hard for the last few weeks of 2011.

Sources of information from cleveland.com, csuvikings.com, and baseball-reference.com. Picture from the Horizon League website at horizonleague.org.

Until next time,

-Lee

Falling Down the Summit (League)

Greetings readers,

Earlier today, I saw an article about how the Summit League should disband, written by Bleacher Report. You can read that article here if you are interested. If you are unfamiliar with the Summit League, let me give you a little rundown on the conference.

The Summit League is a NCAA Division I conference which currently houses ten teams, from Michigan to Utah. After this season, Centenary and Southern Utah will be leaving. SUU will join up with the Big Sky Conference in 2012, whereas Centenary is moving down to NCAA Division III (as mentioned in my “The Fighting New Nicknames” article.) The Summit has been around since 1982, but named as the Association of Mid-Continent Universities before switching to the Mid-Continent Conference name in 1989.

Currently, Indiana is home to two Summit League teams (IUPUI and IPFW) whereas other states just have one member. Western Illinois University has called the Summit League home the longest, since 1982. The newest members are IPFW, North Dakota State, and South Dakota State. South Dakota will join the league in Fall 2011, making the state of South Dakota have two league members as well as Indiana. With Southern Utah gone in 2012, the league will have all schools in the Midwest. This will help out some schools on the travel budget, as Utah is quite a bit away from the other schools.

As a whole, the conference has seen nineteen other teams join and leave the league. The biggest movement of teams to leave the conference at once happened in 1994, when Wright State, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Northern Illinois, Cleveland State, and UIC all moved to the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now called the Horizon League, since 2001.) As a response, the Mid-Con absorbed teams from the East Coast Conference, like Central Connecticut State, Chicago State, Troy State (now known as Troy), Northeastern Illinois, and Buffalo. All of those teams have moved on, with Northeastern Illinois folding athletics altogether in 1998.

Two more teams would leave the Mid-Con for the Horizon League. Youngstown State joined in 2001, followed by Valparaiso in 2007. Before YSU joined the Horizon League, Northern Illinois left  in 1997.

According to the article from Bleacher Report, the summit League should disband because on how low their RPI is in Men’s Basketball. Currently, Oakland is on top of the Summit League with a RPI ranking of 74th out of 345 teams. The next Summit League team is IUPUI at 111. Centenary is near the bottom of the RPI list at 343rd. As a whole, the Summit League ranks 23rd out of 31 conferences and independents. (this is from 2/1/11)

The article does have a good point on the RPI, but does that mean they have to fold completely? If that conference folds, you have eight teams looking for a new conference home. The writer recommends IPFW, IUPUI, and Oakland to check out the Horizon League, but the league is looking for stability. While there are demands from the loyal fans of the HL teams to dump YSU because the majority of the teams don’t compete well enough (Women’s Track usually does exceptionally well), I don’t think the league is looking to dump or add anyone. Sure, it would be a fit geographically, but that doesn’t always make a successful equation.

For the western Summit teams, the writer recommends the Missouri Valley Conference. If that were to happen, that’s sixteen teams. That is very tough to manage, although it seems like the Big East can do it. Keep in mind though, not all teams in the Big East play everything, like football and baseball. Also, keep in mind that’s a different situation as well.

I wish I could spend time of other college sports, since it’s not just basketball. The article and my post just look at that since it’s the sport most fans are watching. Remember, this is where most Horizon League schools got their start in Division I, like Wright State and Cleveland State. Folding teams will not solve anything, since we are in an era of teams leaving for more another conference. I don’t think looking at one number will be a deciding fact on folding a conference. You also have your monetary I will say this, the teams that entered in the 1990’s are still there, which could be a good sign for their long stay in the league.

I guess my point is that folding is not always the answer. Recruiting, scheduling tougher, and playing great will have its rewards.

Sources from Bleacher Report and Real Time RPI (2/1/11). Image from WikiMedia.

Until next time,

-Lee

Rebuilding the Wright Way

Greetings readers,

Today’s post is a little different. I’m writing about my alma mater, Wright State University. Granted, I’m a new graduate, but I still feel that it’s important for me to be updated on new happenings. For a little preview for those that aren’t familiar with what’s going on: Wright State is looking to roll out a Master Plan to rebuild the university. Three snapshots were made to ensure that short-term and long-term goals could be accomplished.

Wright State is unique, due to the woods that split the academics and the athletics side of the campus up. These are part of an old farmland that now have their uses for the Biology Department. It’s a nice walk through the woods, and you can actually traverse from the education side of things over to where most of the sports are played in about 15 minutes (your results may vary.)

In the Master Plan, there’s many changes coming but for the purpose of this blog I’ll stick with the Athletic side of things. If you follow along with the link I provided, this should be near the back of the slideshow.

In Phase I, which is scheduled to be completed in three to five years, the Athletics Core will try to extend Raider Road all the way to Kauffman Road. If you aren’t familiar with WSU, Raider Road is the road that runs by the Nutter Center (basketball arena), the Setzer Pavilion (practice/office arena for basketball), the softball field, and the parking lot that is used for the Tennis Courts and Nischwitz Stadium (baseball). Raider Road ends at University Boulevard which takes you to State Route 844 or back to the main part of campus. At the intersection, you will see Lot 20 (it’s a long way from the dorms but a lot cheaper to park there) and Alumni Field (soccer) closer to 844. To complete the description, Kauffman is the road that borders Wright State to the north. There are currently three entrances to campus from the road, and two link to Lot 20. The other connection is from Wright State Road, which ends at an angle at University. To do this, the lot will need to be cut in size as the road will need to pass the soccer field.

Along with extending an important road in Phase I, Wright State also wants to fill in some of the pond near the Nutter Center to create more parking spaces, which many basketball fans have brought to attention numerous times. Along with creating a pedestrian spine and landscapes for University and Raider, the recreation fields would move from the Student Union area to behind/next to Alumni Field. Nearby the Athletic core, there would be a Sports Medicine building by Kauffman.

Phase II is a short one for the Athletic side of things, as the relocation of the recreation fields is scheduled to be complete in five to ten years. However, there is another Sports Medicine building (labeled Sports Medicine II) nearby.

In the final Phase, which is scheduled to take ten plus years, the Athletic core is looking to build a “Field House” and an Aquatics Center.  Along with adding some fields to the northwest part of Wright State (that’s the corner of Zink and Kauffman, which is where the majority of the on-campus and off-campus apartments are located), there is a plan to add more parking spaces by opening a one-level parking deck north of the Nutter Center, which should be right next to Gate Nine.

In the final slide, there is Student Housing planned on the southwest corner of University and Raider, which is currently an untouched field of grass. The tennis courts are relocated to the north of Alumni Field, which happens in Phase I.

As you can see, there are a lot of improvements being planned. I didn’t touch on any other part but the Athletic core, mainly because this is a sports blog. I could have mentioned that there are plans to replace the Forest Lane apartments, where I spent three years living on campus. There’s also a few parking garages in the works.

All and all, this is a fantastic plan. Granted, no two people are going to agree on one same thing being the best or worst, but it’s a solid plan to keep Wright State with the times. I know when I come back for Alumni functions, I’m going to be surprised on how much the campus has changed.

It’s my alma mater. Hail Wright State, Hail Wright State U. Go Raiders!

Until next time,

-Lee