Campus Corner

UMKC will leave Summit League for Western Athletic Conference

Updated: 2013-02-08T15:29:00Z

By BLAIR KERKHOFF

The Kansas City Star

UMKC is joining the Western Athletic Conference beginning next school year.

The Kangaroos, a member of The Summit League in 1994, will join eight other schools in the conference, which is anchored in the West and Southwest.

The ’Roos new conference competition for 2013-14 will consist of Cal State Bakersfield, Chicago State, Grand Canyon (Ariz.), Idaho, New Mexico State, Seattle, Texas-Pan American and Utah Valley.

UMKC athletic director Tim Hall called it a “new era” in UMKC athletics, and the school will talk more about the move at a news conference with WAC interim commissioner Jeff Hurd next Thursday.

“It not only solidifies our membership for the 2013-14 season, but also gives us a strong core of institutions that will help the WAC reestablish itself as a top Division I conference,” Hurd said in a statement.

But the move might be the first of many exits from the Summit League.

Speculation persists that several Summit schools could soon be on the move, including more to the WAC. The Missouri Valley and Horizon conferences may also become destinations for Summit schools.

The realignment is seen as a trickle down from what’s happening at major Division I conferences.

When the Big East teams lost members to the Big 12, Atlantic Coast and Big Ten, its private school basketball powers announced they were leaving to form their own conference. The league, unofficially known as the Catholic 7, is expected to grow to 12 teams with Xavier, Butler, Dayton, Saint Louis and Creighton as possible targets.

Aside from the Valley’s potential loss of Creighton, Evansville is rumored to an expansion target of the Horizon League. That could open two spots in the Missouri Valley for North Dakota State and South Dakota State from the Summit. The Dakota schools already compete in the Missouri Valley in football.

Also thought to be on the Horizon’s radar is Oakland and perhaps IUPUI, both from the Summit.

Other potential WAC candidates are Omaha of the Summit and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.

UMKC started Division I competition in 1987 and played as an independent until 1994, when it joined the Mid-Continent Conference. It became known as The Summit League in 2007.

To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to bkerkhoff@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/BlairKerkhoff

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