UMKC leaving the Summit League for WAC
Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 10:02
In a move best described as unexpected, UMKC announced last Thursday the University would be leaving The Summit League to join the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) on July 1. The Kangaroos had been a member of the Summit since 1994 and were one of the longest tenured members of the league.
Only Western Illinois, which joined in 1982, had been members longer.
The move is considered unexpected because The Summit League has been a much more stable conference as of late. At the end of the current school year, the WAC is losing seven teams.
Those seven are being replaced by six, including UMKC, but those six are less well-known than the members who are departing.
The current membership of the WAC includes Denver, San Jose State, Utah State, Louisiana Tech, the University of Texas San Antonio, UT-Arlington, Texas State, Utah Valley, Idaho, New Mexico and Seattle.
But only the last three will maintain their membership next year. Denver is joining The Summit League, San Jose State and Utah State will be in the Mountain West, Louisiana Tech and UTSA are moving to Conference USA, UT-Arlington and Texas State are joining the Sun Belt.
The teams the WAC is bringing in include Cal State Bakersfield, Chicago State, Grand Canyon, Texas Pan-American and Utah Valley. UMKC will be the ninth member, but that number will drop down to eight in 2014.
Idaho is moving its non-football sports to the Big Sky Conference and going independent for football.
“We decided to accept the invitation to join the Western Athletic Conference because of the strong potential alignment it offers with our strategic objectives related to community engagement and financial strength,” UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton said in a statement released by the conference.
The move by UMKC has the potential to start a domino effect in The Summit League. When the Big East lost members to the Big XII, Atlantic Coast and Big Ten, the seven private members of the conference announced they were leaving to form their own league.
One of the schools rumored to join what is unofficially being called the Catholic 7 is Creighton. Other rumors of realignment include Evansville to the Horizon League.
Creighton and Evansville departing the Missouri Valley Conference leaves two spots that may be sought after by North Dakota State and South Dakota State. Both of those schools already compete in the Missouri Valley in football.
“We are excited about this new era in UMKC Athletics,” UMKC Director of Athletics Tim Hall said in the statement. “We look forward to competing alongside the institutions in the WAC and providing a great experience for our student-athletes.”