Exploring the possibilities: Rams and a new conference

Nine schools in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference– all with NCAA Division II athletic ties — want to form a new 12-school conference. One of the aims is to find enough schools from nearby states to join in creating a league with similar football interests.

[cleeng_content id="736698819" description="Read it now!" price="0.15"]The current situation in the WVIAC finds there are 15 schools, but for the 2012 season there will be only nine of them sponsoring Division II football. Alderson-Broaddus will field a “club” football team for the first time this year, playing a schedule against teams without any football scholarships. The Battlers have shown future schedules that have them playing a complete list of the nine schools now in the WVIAC.
Pitt-Johnstown, Davis & Elkins, Ohio Valley, Wheeling Jesuit, and Bluefield don’t sponsor football teams. All those schools have both men’s and women’s basketball teams and all 15 of the current members have baseball teams.
About a month ago, a statement was issued by West Liberty about an “exploration” process that would possibily lead to the formation of the new 12-school conference begining in the 2013-14 school term. The other eight schools that would join with the Hilltoppers in forming the new conference all gave their approval of the statement announcing the expected move.
Those other eight schools are Shepherd, Seton Hill, Concord, Glenville, West Virginia Wesleyan, West Virginia State, Charleston, and Fairmont.
Last season, West Liberty had football games aired on a cable television network. The other eight current Division II football schools liked what they heard and saw from West Liberty. So now if the necessary groundwork and labor can convince three other schools from already established leagues to join with schools they’ve never partnered with before there could be a new league in place for the 2013 football season.
The WVIAC has never found much favor or positive feeling flowing from NCAA headquarters in either Kansas, where it was formerly located or from Indianapolis, where it is now.
The WVIAC does not receive at-large bids to the NCAA football playoffs. It’s eligible to receive such bids but has never been found worthy.
After the 2011 football season, only Concord received a bid to the Regional that had six teams playing for a berth in the national semifinals. Concord was the WVIAC champion. Shepherd and West Virginia Wesleyan both had only two losses, but neither could get an at-large bid.
The feeling is that a 12-team league would not only make scheduling much easier but also bring added credibility from the NCAA. And then there is the concentrated interest from all parties in the cable network possibilities.
The nine WVIAC schools see an expanded league giving them all more recognition and more publicity in geographical areas like Ohio or Maryland or even Virginia.
Added together, a cable television package, convenient scheduling, higher regard from the NCAA governing body, and favorable publicity going to an expanded geographical area have brought the forming of a new conference to the forefront of the plans for the nine schools.
Where will the other three schools come from that will form a 12-school league?
The only NCAA Division II school in Maryland is Bowie State and it has been in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference for many years.
Other than Lincoln University, the other NCAA Division II-playing schools in Pennsylvania are in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. The newest members of the PSAC are Gannon and Mercyhurst, both located in Erie. Sixteen schools (including C.W. Post from New York state) form the football-playing part of the PSAC. All 16 of those schools are members of Division II.
The largest core of NCAA Division II schools that could be asked to join with those wanting the leave the WVIAC is in Ohio.
Malone. Tiffin. Walsh. Findlay. Ashland. Central State. Notre Dame. Lake Erie. Ohio Dominican. Urbana. Ten Ohio-based schools. And all them closer to the mastermind of the cable network plan — West Liberty — than any school in Maryland, Virginia, or Pennsylvania if Gannon and Mercyhurst don’t join.
Shepherd has played Virginia State in the past. Virginia Union is another NCAA Division II school not too-distanced from the nine schools planning to leave the WVIAC. Could Alderson-Broaddus be asked to join with the other nine? Not as the first choice of the others.
The idea of a new conference has its basis in giving football more recognition in a larger geographical area and bringin in more football revenue. While none of the Division II schools in the country has athletic budgets even remotely comparable with Texas, Ohio State, or Notre Dame they still sponsor many sports that don’t “pay for themselves”. It is football that is often the one sport that can actually bring in more money than it spends. But not at many places.
So, it is football that has to be given every opportunity to be more of a cash cow if at all possible. And football games aired on some sort of small regional network could generate more money for all and help recruiting of not only more talented football players but also more talented-in-the-classroom students.[/cleeng_content]


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