The initiative to bring back sports is moving along, but students will have to hold on for a while longer before the return of collegiate sports to The W can become a reality.
The process began about two years ago, during the summer of 2012, when a division three athletic director was brought in to look at all sport facilities to make sure they met the requirements should MUW pursue athletics again. Shortly after that, the process underwent two phases: first, a campus committee was created to review the possibility in depth, and then an evaluation was made by an independent consultant. The results were positive: the W was ready to play sports.
According to President Jim Borsig, the university is now attempting to find a suitable conference to join. But it’s a long and arduous process.
“We are working with others, so we can’t control the timeline,” said Dr. Borsig. “It all comes down to being able to be a member of a conference and that is not as easy as it sounds.”
In order for the W to join a conference, it must first be able to offer a variety of athletics – both for males and females – that closely matches what other conference members have. This wouldn’t usually be a problem, as the W is perfectly able to host a wide range of sports either on-campus or with local partners. The issue is rooted in the one sport that MUW can’t play: football. Without having the most popular sport in the country in your roster, the work to join a sports conference becomes a lot more challenging.
And even if The W is able to find a suitor soon, the journey won’t be over. After joining, the university would also have to meet NCAA’s minimum requirements and then undergo a lengthy process.
“After we start, it’s probably a 5 year process before membership is successfully accepted, and that’s the reason we have not been in any hurry,” said Borsig. “Once we get passed this first decision some other things will fall into place. “
However, the challenge doesn’t scare Dr. Borsig off. The university has been very careful and deliberate from the beginning to make sure that everything is done right so the return to athletics can be as successful as it used to be.
“We want to do it with the same level of excellence that we do everything else,” said Borsig. “So it’s very important for us to find the right fit, find the right opportunity and do it the right way, and that’s something everybody should know.”
Bringing back sports is obviously a challenge in many aspects. But Dr. Borsig believes that having athletics would ultimately improve the quality of life of students, and that by itself makes it a worthwhile initiative.
“This campus would be more vibrant if we had athletics, and it would probably help increase and certainly retain enrollment because of the additional opportunities for involvement,” said Dr. Borsing.
“Students who are involved graduate college in a higher rate than students who are not involved on campus.”
The university is hoping to make an announcement regarding the return athletics by the end of the fall semester.