MIAA set to realign, again

Graphic by Josh Rouse, Washburn Review.

Rob Burkett

The MIAA conference is just one in a line of conferences that have recently been discombobulated. The University of Nebraska at Omaha’s recent move to Division I sports was just another brick in the proverbial wall.

UNO’s move has a few consequences that will affect Washburn in the near term. Currently, college athletic recruiting for this year is in large part over. National signing day, when players decide what school they are going to play for, came and went with 29 players signing national letters of intent with the Ichabods for next year. With the decision by UNO to drop football in their move to Division I sports, many players who either play for UNO or signed letters of intent to play there are now stuck without a team. According to Washburn head coach, Craig Schurig, the players at UNO face a precarious situation

“Their players are going to be able to find some teams that have room still but like we signed a big class this year so some of their players might have to be patient,” said Schurig.

At the same time, Schurig does view this unique situation as an opportunity to possibly bring in players that the coaching staff is familiar with.

“In the case of some players, they’ve played one or two years so we’ve had a chance to see them a lot and know what kind of players they are,” said Schurig. “Some of them we recruited once already also so we’ll make some phone calls and touch base with them.”

Beyond the recruiting situation, Washburn now also faces another problem. The 2011 football schedule was to open with a home game against UNO Sept. 3. Washburn now is looking to fill the hole with whatever opponent they can find. With the position of the game in the scheduling lineup, WU feels it is in a decent position to get a partner school that might also be looking for an opponent at this late juncture.

“It’s the first week so we have a chance to fill that game,” said Schurig. “A lot of teams keep that date open until pretty late. We didn’t get our first game last season until around this time last year.”

Beyond the immediate future, Schurig also sees the realignment as somewhat in flux now. With UNO’s departure for Division I, there are currently 14 football teams involved in the MIAA that will require a rework of a process that had been in place already.

Lincoln University, a current MIAA school in all its sports but football, will add its program to the MIAA in the upcoming football season. Southwest Baptist University, which is in a similar situation, will not join the MIAA in football until the 2013-14 season.

“The change is going to bring about some challenges,” said Schurig. “We’ll have to bring the process back in and work on it some more.”