MIAA football media day held at Sporting Park, KC

The MIAA Aug. 5 held its football media day conference at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan. Coaches and players from all 12 football programs in the MIAA conference attended the event, which had an unprecedented live video stream, allowing fans and followers to watch from home.

The press conference began at 9 a.m. with a speech from Bob Boerigter, commissioner of the MIAA. He first announced that for the next four years the NCAA Division 2 national championship will be hosted at Sporting Park, which seats more than 18,000.

“We had a great year in the MIAA. We had three national championships: Northwest Missouri State won the national championship in football; the University of Central Missouri won the national championship in basketball in the winter; and then Lincoln University won the women’s outdoor championship in track and field,” said Boerigter. “And then going back to 2013, with Nebraska-Kearney winning the national championship in wrestling, and then in the spring of 2013 the University of Central Oklahoma winning the national championship in softball. That gives the MIAA national championships in five consecutive seasons, and we’re very, very proud of that.”

Boerigter iterated, though, that the MIAA is not concerned solely with championships.

“We’re about more than just winning championships,” Boerigter said. “We’re all about student success.”

The Ken B. Jones award goes to the top scholar-athlete in the MIAA. Two of the three finalists for the award were football players. Trevor Adams, a football player from Northwest Missouri State, won the award.

Boerigter then announced that the MIAA will have an inclusive schedule, meaning every team in the conference will play each other, and no one will play a non-conference game.

The results of the coaches’ poll and the media poll were also released in the conference. Out of 12 teams, Washburn ranked sixth in the coaches’ poll and fifth in the media poll.

Boerigter said if there is a tie in two teams’ records, there would not be a tie-breaker but would rather both teams would be declared co-champions.

Following Boerigter’s announcements, one team at a time, a coach and two players, took the podium and answered questions from the media. Each session lasted 15 minutes.

Washburn’s representatives took the podium at 11:30 a.m. The panel included head coach Craig Schurig and the two players he chose to accompany him: running back Vershon Moore and free safety Calvin Kenney, both seniors.

After Schurig’s opening statement, the first question was directed at Moore, who came back to the team after two years of incarceration for crime. He was asked if he was “physically football ready” when he came back at the beginning of the 2013 season.

“I won’t say I was the best of shape when I came back,” Moore responded. “I mean, I had some things to work on. I feel like I’m better off this spring. I feel like I’m getting back into the game of football.”

Schurig also commented on this issue, which was brought up multiple times during the Q&A.

“We had an opportunity to get Vershon back, and the timing of everything was very good with him getting back in school,” said Schurig. “That was the main focus, and then his ability to play was allowed, so it went pretty smoothly last year, and like he said, when you get thrown into it like that it takes you a little while to get back into the flow of everything, school included.”

Schurig took the time to talk about Moore’s leadership position on the team. 

“But I was very impressed, very thankful for Dr. Farley and [Washburn athletic director] Loren Ferré and how they approached everything, and Vershon did everything he was supposed to do. His leadership skills, internal strength and faith have really kicked in….He’s one of our leaders for sure. That’s why he’s here today.”

In a separate interview, Kenney discussed the make-up of the Washburn football team, how the team is progressing and what to expect in the future.

“Over the summer, for the most part, we’ve had pretty good numbers,” said Kenney. “We’ve had a lot of guys working pretty hard. Some guys that made strides stepped up. So hopefully we’ll have a good year. In certain spots, like receiver position, running back position, we have a lot of depth. Other spots, like O-line and D-line, we don’t have quite as much depth.

The WU football team also has a lot of new faces this year.

“We have a lot of young guys that I think are capable of stepping up and playing a big role,” said Kenney. “They have another year to get bigger, faster, stronger, and I think they’ll definitely be capable of stepping up.”

The press conference closed shortly after 12:30 p.m.

Washburn’s first football game is against Lindenwood University at 6 p.m. Sept. 4 at Yager Stadium. 

Click to read more about Moore’s story.