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 Post subject: "Conference 32"
PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2005 12:25 pm 
Even if Baltimore, Morris Brown, Northeastern Illinois, Savannah State, and Utica weren't exactly near the caliber of NDSU, they were at least located near other D-I members...

Besides SDSU, who is the closest D-I member to NDSU, Minnesota-Twin Cities?

Before discontinuing its athletic program, Baltimore was in the ECAC-Metro, with most of its rivals in closer proximity to UB than NDSU to the Twin Cities...and the same can be said for Northeastern Illinois in the Mid-Con...

Morris Brown (Atlanta) and Utica also had more "local" scheduling options as a D-I independent than NDSU will see for the foreseeable future...

Maybe a better example for the Dakota schools is Southern Utah, which spent a decade or so a D-I independent with a brief membership in the short-lived America West Conference (1994-1996) before backing into the post-apocalyptic Mid-Con undergoing a "membership crisis" amidst the departures of Eastern Illinois, Central Connecticut State, Troy State, and Buffalo...


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 Post subject: "Conference 32"
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2005 9:02 pm 
The assumptions by some that the Omaha market is saturated and that UNO should be left behind if the NCC schools move to D-I are basing it on the blind assumption that the market is cornered and not on the reality that UNO sports actually have quite the following. Check out their attendance for HOCKEY:

http://www.uscho.com/schedules/team.php?season=20042005&team=73&gender=m

That's this season's attendance in the Qwest Center. Notice that they draw 4500-5000 at a minimum, with 7,000 and 8,000 plus for the rivalry games with Alaska-Fairbanks and nearly 10,000 for their tilts with Michigan. This was actually a DOWN year for that program attendance-wise. Prior to this season they had the nations longest sellout streak when they played in the Omaha Auditorium (The Aud), hitting 8,314 regardless of the opponent. The difference in attendance has been mostly attributed to an increase in ticket prices at the new building, a decrease in the atmosphere at a new but sterile building, and Qwest management forcing the change of time/date for a few games. Overall however, this is not the profile of a school who lacks the market prescence to play additional sports at the D-I level.


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 Post subject: "Conference 32"
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 5:14 pm 
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I can't see Conference 32 being any more than a scheduling convenience for the participant schools to fill the January-February basketball schedules until they get into a "real" conference. Savannah State is hopeless. Longwood is nearly as bad.

On the other hand, NDSU, SDSU have the potential to be decent mid-major type schools, similar to a Northern Iowa or (now) Missouri State. They sit as the only major colleges in TV markets of approximately the same size as Reno, and as state flagship universities have more resources to draw from than most other recent schools reclassifying to D-I.

I'm inclined to think that Utah Valley State will gravitate towards the bottom half of D-I, but I believe they're building a new arena and so far doing all the right things, and the Wasatch Range is rapidly growing, so they might be all right eventually, too.

TAMU-CC and TPAU really, really need to find a real conference to get anywhere. TAMU-CC especially is making pretty good progress in hoops. The main problem for both schools is probably that they don't have football, making the Southland less than interested in them.

Wither the NCC?
NDSU and especially SDSU lobbied the rest of the North Central Conference hard to move the entire conference to D-IAA. Both schools put off their reclassification for a year to work on the NCC members, and only left when it was obvious that the rest of the membership couldn't or wouldn't make the move.

I don't see any scenarios where any other current NCC school moves up to D-I in the next three years. UND is probably the school most likely to attempt the upgrade, and it's unclear whether or not the move would be made easier or harder by any success NDSU sees there.

As for what's left of the NCC: USD's athletic budget is in shambles with major Title IX problems; Minnesota State-Mankato might move if they can figure out how to finesse the Gopher alums and backers into thinking it's a good idea; St. Cloud and Minnesota-Duluth are, I think, happy with what they have right now, as is UNO. Augustana is much more likely to drop down to D-III or NAIA than it is to move to D-I.

There's no doubt that D-I life for NDSU and SDSU would be much easier if most of their old NCC rivals moved up. I don't think that will happen any time soon. Their best bet for a permanent home is another wave of conference realignments.

Unfortunately for SDSU and NDSU, the best D-I geographic fit is probably a combination of the Gateway and (don't laugh) the Missouri Valley. MVC membership ain't gonna be an option unless both of the SU's demonstrate some serious basketball chops. Winning a couple of NIT's might do it, or a couple of years consistently having an RPI in the lower 100's (and of course becoming NCAA tournament-eligible). That's a pretty tall order.

Until something else shakes loose however, it's Conference 32.


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