Category Archives: MVC

Wichita State and autonomy

The NCAA passed what has become known as autonomy legislation on Thursday, opening the door for the top five conferences to make their own rules on items such as stipends, insurance, contact with agents, etc. Much of the details are still to come (in fact, it’s not official until after a 60-day veto period).

What does it mean for WSU?
Athletic director Eric Sexton has said recently (and repeatedly) that Wichita State will do as much as is financially possible to avoid losing ground to the high-profile conferences. Missouri Valley Conference commissioner Doug Elgin has said his schools are committed to keeping pace with their men’s and women’s basketball programs.
What that means won’t be clear until the specifics are adopted.

On Thursday afternoon, senior associate athletics director Becky Endicott hadn’t received formal word from the NCAA or the MVC on the legislation. Volleyball coach Chris Lamb, busy with two-a-days wasn’t aware exactly what happened on Thursday. So if you expected mass panic and surrender at Koch Arena, no such luck.

“We’re waiting,”  Endicott said. “Until we get notification from them, I’m not going to jump to any conclusions.”

My guess is a school such as WSU is well-positioned to weather these changes, perhaps more than the rest of the MVC. Trying to stay in the same zip code as Nebraska will be easier for WSU than it will be for Loyola, for example. MVC schools with football also face different decisions and burdens than WSU will.

Sexton’s prime worry is that the high-profile conferences will press their advantage in competitive areas (such as adding scholarships or changing transfer rules). That would be a significant issue, because every athlete gobbled up by the Big 12 or SEC is one less available to other schools. If, as Sexton hopes, the top five limit their changes to perks (stipends, insurance, guaranteed four-year scholarships, etc.), it is more realistic for the rest to keep pace.

WSU may learn that matching the Big 12 with a true-cost-attendance-stipend is critical, but it is not required to match those schools in other areas.
Of course, it’s all a competitive area. In a sport such as track or baseball (where partial scholarships are available), WSU can offer more of a scholarship to an athlete. However, if Oklahoma or Nebraska can offer to give a walk-on meals, it can counter WSU’s offer with something real.

Ultimately, MVC schools will pump money into basketball. They will tap donors harder. Olympic sports may suffer. There will be challenges for WSU and you (the fan) may feel it in your bank account. In 10 years, WSU may have dropped a sport or scaled back its competitive profile in order to help other sports keep pace. It will be easier for WSU, with a large fan-base and no football, than it will for others.

Let’s also recognize that there always were and always will be significant differences between schools such as Michigan, Alabama, Kansas, Missouri and their ilk and Wichita State and its peers.

Some, but not most, of WSU’s success in any sport is related to beating higher-profile schools for recruits. More of its success is related to beating similar schools for the top talent available (see Carl Hall, Toure Murry or Rashard Kelly) and developing talent when others missed it (see Ron Baker, Conor Gillaspie, decathlete Austin Bahner or volleyball’s Sara Lungren). Winning recruiting battles against higher-profile schools happens  (see Cleanthony Early, volleyball setter Chelsey Feekin, countless baseball players, track athletes Kord Ferguson and Audacia Moore), but it’s not a daily occurance.

In that way, trying to stand on equal recruiting ground with Mountain West, Big East and Conference USA schools is just as important as trying to keep pace with the ACC.

WSU, and schools such as Gonzaga, Northern Iowa and VCU, will always need to find inventive ways to survive when matched against schools with bigger budgets, populations and TV contracts. Let’s also recognize that there are also intra-conference differences (Ohio State-Northwestern, Texas-Iowa State for example) that need to be factored in. My guess is Mississippi isn’t excited about searching for more money in order to keep up with Florida, any more than Big East, Mountain West or MVC schools are bracing for more expenses.

Some stories that may help you understand what might be coming:

USA Today: First round of autonomy legislation due Oct. 1.

Washington Post: Big 10 commissioner says smaller conferences not precluded from ramping up.

Springfield News-Leader: Missouri State AD Kyle Moats is looking for $200,000.

Omaha World Herald: NCAA changes the game on Creighton.


Hoosier rival, Wichita State?

Jake Odum made Indiana State games meaningful the past four seasons.

Jake Odum made Indiana State games meaningful the past four seasons.

Indiana State joined the Missouri Valley Conference in 1976. At no point since has it been regarded as Wichita State’s No. 1 rival. Most years, it probably didn’t register in the top five, except for a few baseball seasons during the 1980s.

While it is too early to consider Indiana State an MVC rival on the order of Tulsa or Creighton, the MVC’s All-Sports standings highlight the fact that the Sycamores might be the closest thing to a well-rounded challenger that exists. WSU easily won the All-Sports award and Indiana State finished second, its best finish. While I would consider Missouri State, because of its success in many sports and proximity, the logical choice to heat up the rivalry with WSU, the Bears need to do some work to grow more relevant than the Sycamores.

Surprising, I know. It might be hard for Shocker fans to muster up hard feelings for the Sycamores, based on the tepid history between the schools and location. There might not be any better choices in the near future.

Consider that Indiana State finished second in MVC men’s basketball and tied with WSU for the women’s title. Indiana State’s baseball team earned another NCAA at-large bid (to go with one in 2012) and finished ahead of the Shockers two of the past three seasons. In track and field, Indiana State replaced Northern Iowa as WSU’s biggest challenge in MVC meets.

The rivalry will grow or wither on the strength of men’s basketball, where WSU needs a school to push it in the manner Creighton did for so many years. With its recent success, Indiana State generates some buzz when it’s on the schedule. If coach Greg Lansing can keep his team near the top of the Valley, the rivalry might grow into something.

That Indiana State is mentioned in this discussion is a credit to its administration. It is the smallest (enrollment 11,494) of the MVC’s six public schools and Terre Haute’s population of 59,000 is the second-smallest among MVC cities. Indiana State doesn’t appear to be rolling in dough compared to its MVC rivals.




MVC Travel Channel – Des Moines

Previous stops on tour of MVC cities and campuses:

Illinois State

Missouri State

Southern Illinois


MVC Travel Channel: Normal, Ill.

Past trips:

Missouri State

Southern Illinois


My MVC preseason picks

MVC men’s basketball ballots are due today (I got mine in last week because I’m an overachiever). I didn’t make many changes from picks earlier in the summer, other than dropping Illinois State. I’m higher on Bradley than most of the magazines I’ve seen. The top six seem safe bets to finish in or around the top half – most are solid programs with veteran coaches. While schools such as UNI and Evansville lost several seniors, they shouldn’t fall off dramatically. The bottom four appears to be a real guessing game and I’m don’t see that group racking up many RPI-building wins.

Reggie Miller would put WSU’s Ron Baker on his preseason All-MVC team, if Reggie Miller had a vote.

My only small reach on the All-MVC team is Shocker guard Ron Baker, who didn’t play a regular-season MVC game last season. Good arguments can be made for players who appeared in more than 18 games and averaged double figures, such as UNI’s Seth Tuttle or SIU’s Desmar Jackson. I won’t be surprised if WSU’s Tekele Cotton is in this conversation in March. Baker’s not a reach based on how he played in March.

1. Wichita State - No reason not to pick the Shockers No. 1, although I don’t expect this season to be an easy ride through the MVC. What does winning a post-Creighton MVC title mean? I guess we’ll find out.

2. Indiana State - Tons of experience in a conference that traditionally rewards senior-laden teams. A healthy Mike Samuels (an enormous junior center who missed last season with an injury) would help. Shocker fans should cheer, cheer, cheer for the Sycamores, who are likely the Valley’s only other team with an NCAA at-large chance.

3. Bradley - Not an overwhelming amount of experience, so disregard the importance of MVC minutes when judging the Braves. I think coach Geno Ford can recruit and get his guys to play hard, so I’m buying the Braves as a rising power in the Valley.

4. Northern Iowa – We’ll see what Tuttle and Deon Mitchell can do without James, Sonnen and (Jake) Koch. Only two seniors, but that’s misleading because so many Panthers redshirt. I’m interested to see what Tennessee transfer Wes Washpun adds. Read More »

Wichita State, ORU and the MVC

From a Wichita State perspective, the empty spot in the Missouri Valley Conference offered a chance for geographic relief.

Shocker teams suffer the biggest travel disadvantage in the MVC and it gets worse with Creighton’s departure. WSU will have seven trips of 500 miles or more with the addition of Loyola. It is a competitive and budget hit that the Shockers deal with well enough to field the MVC’s strongest athletic program.

So did WSU push for Oral Roberts and the comfy-sounding road road trip of 177 miles to Tulsa? Read More »

Loyola’s history with Wichita State

Loyola coach George Ireland led the Ramblers to the 1963 NCAA title.

Wichita State and Loyola share a basketball history from the 1960s, when both ran as national powers. From 1963 to 1969, the schools met 13 times, playing at Chicago Stadium for Loyola’s home games.

Most times, they met as two of college basketball’s best.

Loyola won the NCAA title in 1963.  The Shockers played in the 1965 Final Four. The Ramblers also played in the NCAA Tournament in 1964, 1965 and 1968. The Shockers played in the 1964 NCAA Tournament and the NIT in 1962, 1963 and 1966.

Seven times one of the teams was ranked when they met during the 1960s. In 1963 and 1964, they met three times with both teams in the top 10. In 1963, the eighth-ranked Shockers defeated the eventual national champions 73-72 in Chicago Stadium, Loyola’s only loss in Chicago and one of two that season.

While both teams slid from prominence in the 1970s, the series continued. Loyola served as de facto member of the MVC for  the Shockers. They played twice, usually during January and February, from 1964-1974, even adding a tournament matchup in 1970. The series continued with single games in 1974-75 and 1975-76 before slipping away. They last met in 1989 in an Indianapolis tournament. Read More »

Reports: Loyola replaces Creighton

Any school that produced Bob Newhart should be welcomed.

According to the Chicago Tribune, among others, Loyola (Ill.) will join the Missouri Valley Conference for the 2013-14 school year.

The exercise of replacing Creighton was, from the start, a losing proposition. No school interested in the MVC can replace Creighton, at least in the short term. No school appeared to be a great addition in men’s basketball. No school presented a no-risk scenario (which is why adding three of that ilk makes no sense).

Apparently, the MVC presidents (who vote on the addition) are betting that Loyola possesses resources and will devote additional resources to escape years of men’s basketball mediocrity. Loyola athletic director M. Grace Calhoun was hired in 2011. Her top priority should be reviving Read More »

Creighton bugs out

Creighton announced its departure from the Missouri Valley Conference to the Big East, complete with a map.

According to the Omaha World-Herald, Creighton needs to find some money.

MVC commissioner Doug Elgin issued a statement: Read More »

MVC Tournament rewind

Score: Creighton 68, Wichita State 65

Key stats: Creighton made 11 of 24 three-pointers. It made 12 of 24 field goals and committed one turnover in the second half.

How the game turned: Two three-pointers by Creighton’s Jahenns Manigat expanded the lead from 38-33 to 44-35 with 15:02 to play. The Shockers spent the next 13 minutes trying to rally. Read More »