UW-Superior’s Move to the UMAC makes sense, sort of

There is no question about it. The Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference is the best conference when it comes to Division III sports. From top to bottom, in all sports the WIAC blows the competition away. There is no question about this either: the University of Wisconsin-Superior is at an extreme disadvantage.

I don’t care if I ruffle some people’s feathers. What does it mean to be competitive? The word competitive means “having a strong desire to compete or succeed.” How competitive has UW-Superior been in the last 10 years? Do I really need to get into all the statistics about winning percentages and conference titles? They don’t exist here. And now, because UW-Superior has filed the paperwork to join the UMAC (whatever that stands for), UW-Superior athletes and some alumni are up in arms about it? I think it’s funny that the athletes are starting to care now, but the athletes of 10, 15, and 20 years ago didn’t care back when they played.

Give me one good reason UW-Superior should stay in the WIAC? I can give you several, really good reasons (according to “paid” administrators) about why UW-Superior should leave the WIAC. And if “paid” administrators can find a good reason, then it must be pretty obvious.

1. Enrollment

The size of UW-Superior is hardly 2,600 kids. The next smallest school in the WIAC is over 6,000 kids! I believe it’s UW-River Falls, too. Simply put, bigger schools in big conferences will have better success than smaller schools in bigger conference. Why do you think Eden Prairie wins every Minnesota High School football championship? It’s the same reason UW-Stevens Point and UW-Whitewater win national championships in men’s and women’s basketball. BIG SCHOOL! UW-Superior simply can not compete with these schools when it comes to recruiting. No one wants to go to a small school, up in the middle-of-nowhere. It’s extremely hard to recruit kids to come to a small school, especially when the University of Minnesota-Duluth is right across the bridge, and they can offer scholarships (both academically and athletically). Now, if I was good enough to be a Division II basketball player, but I knew I wasn’t going to play much my first three years, I would not go to a school that offered me a scholarship. The competitive person in me would make me go to the smaller school, but a lot of athletes aren ‘t like that these days. Simply put, Minneapolis is too far away and there are too many other colleges in the area for UW-Superior to recruit them up here and Duluth gets first crack at the good-but-better-than-D3 athletes.

2. Money/Facilities/Community

For some reason, Superior is a hockey town. Well, here’s the truth about how average the town of Superior is: the men’s hockey team was 11-15 this season and the high school team was two games over .500.

And I’m not trying to throw anyone under the bus, but really? The women’s basketball team was good, for the second year in a row, and advanced to the WIAC conference championship game. Hardly anyone in the community supports them. Unless someone is affiliated with UW-Superior, they won’t show up to basketball games. It was the same for the men’s team, even though our record was pretty bad. But hey, we’re a young team. Our volleyball team is good, but never that good, always middle-to-lower tier when the final standings are released. Our baseball and softball teams haven’t had a real HOME game in years. Now, some of that is due to the weather, but I remember that the baseball field was being worked on for TWO WHOLE YEARS because the previous construction company screwed it up in the first place. Maybe they’ll be able to have a home game in the next decade. We have a pretty nice gym for basketball. Besides that the janitors hardly ever take care of it, and random people are allowed to come “free shoot” when and in whatever shoes, it’s pretty nice.  The hardwood should only be used by college athletes in college sports. A HUGE (and it is huge) field house was built and designed to accommodate “everyone’s” needs. It has eight basketball hoops as well as tennis and volleyball lines. I suggest the “right” people start making regular citizens or non-athletes use it. It’s not about equality when a lot of money is spent on something that is designed for COMPETITIVE use.

Without proper fundraising and support from the community, it’s hard to get anywhere. That’s why boosters are so big at the Division I and II levels. In my experience at UW-Superior, fundraising has been an issue. I don’t know if it’s because people are lazy and expect someone else to pick up the tab, or if they are scared to ask for money, but money doesn’t get raised here. I don’t know if winning would solve much of anything because I feel that this university is so far disconnected from the community. And I don’t think it’s because people aren’t trying. I don’t think the people of the school (athletes or whoever) and the people of the town care what happens.

3. History

History hasn’t been kind to any UW-Superior team. Despite winning the national championship in men’s hockey in 2002, UW-Superior has had little success since then. Since 2002, UW-Superior as a whole, has won four conference titles (on the WIAC website, not everything has been updated). Since UW-Superior doesn’t have much history, do I really need to write anymore?

4. Geographically Challenged

The shortest in-conference bus ride is two and a half hours long. The longest in-conference bus ride is nearly seven and a half hours long, and it doesn’t include bad road conditions and weather. It took us nine hours to get to Oshkosh, Wisconsin earlier this year after a terrible snowstorm.

With the proposed move to the UMAC, I think UW-Superior would benefit almost immediately. Women’s basketball would, more than likely, be the favorite to win the conference. Men’s basketball would probably compete for a conference title as well. Baseball and softball could see their win totals increase.

It might seem like a very unpopular move, but sometimes you need to start over. Consider this as an attempt for UW-Superior to hit the restart button. They will be move competitive and, in turn, they can create their own legacy and tradition.

Even if it’s in a lesser conference.



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