UNO makes move to D-1

The MIAA may be in the process of expansion, but it recently lost one of its member institutions. The University of Nebraska-Omaha announced a move into Division-I athletics last week, forcing them to cut their football and wrestling programs altogether.

According to Southern Athletics Director Jared Bruggeman, the UNO athletes will maintain their scholarships for the next academic year, but they will not be renewed after that.

“We knew that was on their radar,” he said. “I think the thing that really caught us a little bit unaware was the fact that it happened so fast. It went from we’re working with them and we’re expanding the league, from a Tuesday until a Sunday they were a devote member to no longer being with us.

“So what does that do for us? Well in defense of Omaha, they have to do what’s best for their institution, every institution has to look after itself. Now it’s unfortunate they had to do it so fast, but we understand that component of it so we don’t blame them for anything. But what it does for us is it does leave some holes that we have to figure out.”

One of the holes Bruggeman mentions is the one left in MIAA football schedules, which were retooled to accommodate league expansion just over two months ago. The league announced on Jan. 25 that it had released conference schedules through 2015. All holes left by UNO’s departure will now have to be accommodated by other opponents.

Bruggeman says Southern will have an opponent in place regardless, but is trying to find an opponent to come to Joplin, as the originally scheduled UNO game was a home game for the Lions.

“As far as the other sports, some of the coaches will look at do they want to fill that gap or not? Sometimes they feel they play enough games, maybe that gap would be an appropriate break for the student-athletes versus wearing on them continuously. So each sport will take a look at it individually. Of course we’re going to have to get back together with our expansion group and figure out how to adjust our schedules.”