When we try to talk to Wichita State athletic director Eric Sexton about the future of the Missouri Valley Conference and his school’s future with that conference or another, he doesn’t say much. It’s not much fun for the media, who would prefer he say something bold or outrageous, or a combination of both.
We can’t draw that out of him.
“We’re continuing to focus on excellence,” he says, so often that we could walk up to him and ask him for the excellence quote and walk away.
Today is one of those excellence days, one that took root when former WSU president Don Beggs, hired in 1999, got the athletic department on the right track by hiring former athletic director Jim Schaus later that year. In 2000, they announced plans to renovate Levitt Arena and Shocker athletics picked up momentum. That momentum continues through Sexton’s tenure, highlighted this school year by the volleyball team’s Sweet 16 appearance and today.
Both its basketball teams are in the NCAA Tournament today, the women playing Texas A&M and the men playing Gonzaga. Twenty-three other schools can say the same thing. When it comes to its future, WSU can only control one thing – its performance. It can either stay at the top of the MVC and lead the conference toward better days, or it can make itself an attractive candidate should a better option come around.
Those are thoughts for a different day. Today, if you’re a Shocker fan who helped build Koch Arena, stuck with the men’s program in the 1990s, believed in the women’s program when few did or drove to St. Louis or St. Charles, enjoy the basketball.