Well folks the inevitable appears to be here; according to the Detroit Free Press; Oakland will make it official after a Board Of Trustees vote that they are indeed leaving the Summit League for the Horizon League for NEXT season according to two sources. This now brings the Summit roster down to 8 teams and with a window between now and June 30th when schools are to have their conference membership declared; it’s a tight deadline for Tom Douple and friends to have an invite extended. Of course; this news should surprise NO one; the first rumors of Oakland and the Horizon started about this time last year with OU coach Greg Kampe openly campaigning to get his team into the league; but rival Detroit always stood in the way of the Grizzlies. But the loss of Loyola (IL) to the Missouri Valley was enough to overwhelm Detroit’s concerns and the Grizzlies are in. This is a big time setback for the Summit; considering OU owns the last NCAA Tournament win for the conference back in 2005 and now leaves the conference with exactly ZERO NCAA wins. Just take a look at the roster of schools wnen NDSU, SDSU and IPFW joined the Summit in 2007 to what it looks like now:
2007-08 Summit League 2013-14 Summit League
- NDSU NDSU
- SDSU SDSU
- IPFW IPFW
- Oakland Nebraska-Omaha
- Western Illinois Western Illinois
- UMKC South Dakota
- Centenary Denver
- IUPUI IUPUI
- Oral Roberts
- Southern Utah
No one will argue the losses of Centenary and Southern Utah as being detrimental to the league; but Kansas City’s departure shocked everyone in the league; and took away a midwest foothold that was relatively easy to travel to. Now you take away arguably the two best attendance draws in the league in Oral Roberts and Oakland and what do you have left? You have the Dakota schools that have emerged as perennial league contenders; Western Illinois has made great strides in the last two years and a Denver team that is coming off an NIT apearance; but has lots of unknowns. It also brings in the real possibility of just 14 conference games and for NDSU that means 2 home games that are gone and will be nearly impossible to replace; we’ve detailed how hard it is for the football team to get a game but Saul Phillips and Dave Richman have re-iterated to me how difficult it is to get quality games in Fargo. Fresno State was a two-for-one deal as was Kansas State. Akron will return as part of the BracketBusters; but NDSU could very well find itself on the road for the lost Summit Games.
Who’s next? That’s the big riddle as to who Tom Douple has his eyes on. He told Jeff and I on the old Saturday Sports Show (remember those great days) then they were looking at several schools and mentioned St. Cloud State by name. We thought it seemed crazy at the time; but the top end Northern Sun schools may not be all that crazy. The Nebraska-Omaha model may be one to follow for someone like SCSU or MSU Mankato; each schools have D-1 hockey and may need to drop football to make a full Division 1 transition. SCSU already had its football on life support; now granted to have two teams at the same time in the D-1 transition is not optimal (UNO won’t be fully eligible until 2015) but if its about saving the automatic qualifier status; all options must be looked at. Much more on the new video blog with Jeff and I at 1 tomorrow; if you have comments/questions, live tweet them to @DomIzzoWDAY and @FGOSportswriter and we’ll try to answer them on the video blog. Till then!