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Author Topic: WIAC sports: UW-Superior to sever most ties with WIAC in fall of 2015  (Read 426 times)
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« on: December 02, 2014, 08:46:44 AM »

They dropped wrestling quite a while ago.  I find this interesting...

WIAC sports: UW-Superior to sever most ties with WIAC in fall of 2015

WIAC sports: UW-Superior to sever most ties with WIAC in fall of 2015

May 07, 2014 1:25 pm  •  Wisconsin State Journal

The Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference announced Wednesday that the University of Wisconsin-Superior’s application to join the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference has been officially accepted.

The vote, among presidents of current UMAC-member schools, was unanimous.

Consequently, UW-Superior will withdraw from the WIAC effective with the 2015-2016 academic year, ending what will be a 103-year conference affiliation with the state's other public institutions.

“Losing a member, particularly a charter member that has been in the conference for over 100 years, is never a desirable development," WIAC commissioner Gary Karner said.

"However, when you look at all the variables an institution needs to consider with respect to conference affiliation such as enrollment and travel distances, this move is clearly in the best interest of UW-Superior and its athletics program.

“On a positive note, we are extremely pleased that UW-Superior will remain a member of the WIAC in the sports of men’s and women’s ice hockey, and we look forward to a great many opportunities to continue competing against the Yellowjackets in other sports, albeit as non-conference opponents.”

The UMAC does not offer men's and women's hockey as conference sports.

The WIAC competes at the NCAA Division III level and consists of nine University of Wisconsin System universities: UW-Eau Claire, UW-La Crosse, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Platteville, UW-River Falls, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Stout, UW-Superior and UW-Whitewater.

UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee are members of NCAA Division I, and UW-Parkside (near Kenosha) is an NCAA Division II institution.

UW-Superior dropped its football program in 1992, and the WIAC has operated as an eight-team football conference ever since.

The biggest problem the WIAC will face with the move is in baseball. Superior's departure will leave the WIAC with six baseball programs, falling under the seven-team threshold required by the NCAA for automatic qualification of its conference champion to the Division III national tournament.

"This really is a bittersweet day for us. On the one hand we are excited to see what the future holds in becoming part of a new conference, but on the other hand there is some emotion that comes with leaving the only conference we have been a part of," Athletics Director Steve Nelson said.

"We are a charter member of the WIAC and believe me, this isn't a decision that was made lightly or made on a whim. At the end of the day, we had to do what was best for our department. We had to do what was best competitively, financially, and institutionally."

Yellowjacket men's sports teams were part of the State Normal Conference beginning in 1913. The conference would later become known as the Wisconsin State University Conference (WSUC) In 1971 women's sports teams joined the Wisconsin Women's Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WWIAC). The conferences then merged to form the WIAC in 1997. Outside of men's and women's hockey, Yellowjacket sports have only competed in the WIAC.

"For a long time the WIAC was the right fit, and the only fit, for UW-Superior," Nelson said. "Over time that has changed. Our travel is much more significant than any other team in the conference, with our shortest trip being over two hours. It is something that has had an effect on and is a burden to our coaches and student-athletes."

In the WIAC, Superior's shortest trip to a conference road event is 150 miles (UW-Stout). A trip to Whitewater is 370 miles, one of three conference opponents more than 300 miles away.

In the UMAC, the most distant conference opponent will be less than 260 miles away, and as close as five miles.

"The size discrepancy cannot be ignored, either. At one time most of the schools in the conference were relatively similar in size. Now most of the schools are four and five times larger than we are," added Nelson, whose school has seen its enrollment dip to less than 2,500.

"The next-smallest school is more than double our size (UW-River Falls, about 6,800). That kind of discrepancy puts us at a significant disadvantage in terms of funding and resources and we just couldn't continue to do business the same way any longer,so we began to explore our options with the UMAC."

The UMAC is a dramatic departure from the WIAC for UW-Superior. The smallest school in the WIAC, UW-Superior will become the third-largest institution in the UMAC. Travel also will be considerably reduced, with most trips in the conference falling within the window of the shortest trip in the WIAC.

"The travel consideration is a very big part of all this for us. The travel within the UMAC is much more cost-effective," Nelson said. "The flip side of that is, with the shorter trips, our student-athletes will spend a lot less time out of the classroom, which is of utmost importance. We pride ourselves on the academic performance of our student-athletes and missing fewer classes because of road trips is only going to enhance that."

The UMAC, with most of its membership based in Minnesota, was founded in 1972 as the Twin Cities Rivers Conference before receiving its current moniker in 1983. UW-Superior will become the ninth member of the conference.

"The UMAC is pleased to add UW-Superior as a full member of our conference. It is clear that UW-Superior embodies the foundational elements of our conference including our mission which recognizes the pursuit of excellence in both academics and athletics," UMAC Commissioner Corey Borchardt said.

"To add another member with a similar profile as our current membership and that is geographically located in the footprint of our conference already, is a significant step in the continued fulfillment of our strategic plan and growth as a conference. I look forward to working with UW-Superior administrators, including Chancellor Dr. Renee Wachter and Director of Athletics Steve Nelson, in further progressing our league as well as their institutional programming and profile."

Other member institutions of the UMAC are Bethany Lutheran College (Mankato, Minn.); Crown College (St. Bonafacious, Minn.); Martin Luther College (New Ulm, Minn.); University of Minnesota-Morris (Morris, Minn.); North Central University (Minneapolis, Minn.); Northland College (Ashland, Wis.); University of Northwestern-St. Paul (St. Paul, Minn.); and the College of St. Scholastica.

"For UW-Superior, this move aligns us with schools that are of similar size and schools that fall more within our recruiting footprint — both from an athletics standpoint and that of the general student population," Nelson said.

Karner said only 30 percent of UW-Superior's student-athletes come from Wisconsin, and more than 50 percent come from Minnesota.

"I don't think that I need to say what it means to be in the same conference with St. Scholastica (in neighboring Duluth, Minn.)," Nelson said. "This is going to significantly fan the fire and provide a lot of energy to an already strong rivalry."

Karner said the WIAC has no current plans to add another member.

Read more: http://host.madison.com/sports/college/state-and-regional/wiac-sports-uw-superior-to-sever-most-ties-with-wiac/article_2b4aff82-d615-11e3-9986-001a4bcf887a.html#ixzz3KkR28dbK

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