NCAA: Clarity, please!

Josh Rouse

This weekend has been full of controversy in NCAA Division II sports, specifically in the MIAA.

For starters, with Washburn accepting an invitation to play in the Kanza Bowl, the Mineral Water Bowl Committee selected Pittsburg State (5-6 regular season record, 3-6 in conference) to play in its bowl over Nebraska-Omaha (5-6 regular season record, 5-4 in conference) and Emporia State (5-6 regular season record, 3-6 in conference). Both UNO and ESU beat Pitt State during the regular season, and UNO seems the most logical selection seeing as how its conference record is better. The biggest problem with this selection, however, is that the contract between the Mineral Water Bowl and the MIAA has a clause that says that no MIAA team will play in the bowl unless it has a winning record.

The selection of Pittsburg State over the other two schools seems especially dubious considering the former MIAA commissioner, Jim Johnson, is the current Pittsburg State athletic director. To those on the outside, it appears as though Johnson is using his leverage with the Mineral Water Bowl to get them to not only bend their own rules, but select Pittsburg State over two teams that are more deserving of spots in the bowl game.

What makes the situation almost laughable is that UNO may not have accepted an invite from the bowl committee anyways because of the financial implications of the bowl. An article in the Omaha World-Herald said UNO athletic director Trev Alberts was sketchy on the Mineral Water Bowl’s business model after choosing between it and the Kanza Bowl last year. According to Alberts, if the Mavs didn’t bring enough fan support, they would have to assume the financial risks.

Another example of committees making unusual decisions is the NCAA Division II Women’s Volleyball Committee, which picked Central Missouri (28-4 overall, 18-2 in MIAA) as the No. 1 seed in the South Central Region of the NCAA Tournament over WU (30-2 overall, 18-2 in MIAA), which was seeded No. 2 in the region. Washburn won a share of the MIAA championship this season and received the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament because it defeated UCM both times they played. Washburn is also rated higher in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (No. 5) than UCM (No. 9).

Personally, it angers me that these postseason committees have taken the liberty of single-handedly making the regular seasons of these sports mean absolutely nothing. There is not a single reason that a team with a worse overall record, conference record, head-to-head record and national ranking should be seeded higher in a tournament or given a bowl opportunity over another team that actually earned the spot. As I’m not a part of either committee, I can only speculate the motives, but it certainly seems as though somebody is dipping their hand into the cookie jar. I think all members of these committees need to be held accountable for their actions.