UW-Whitewater to D-II? Not so fast

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April 23, 2014

By Paul Bressler

UW-Whitewater Interim Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Amy Edmonds put to bed any rumors that the Warhawks would make the jump to Division-II, at least for the near future.

“We definitely believe in the Division-III philosophy,” Edmonds said. “You’re a student first and an athlete second. We want you [our athletes] to be available to really take advantage of all the student organization opportunities we have. You’re here to gain that experience, make yourself more marketable so when you graduate you’re going to get hired before someone else.”

D-III has continued to grow over the years, and it currently holds 449 schools. Edmonds says she expects that number to grow by about 20 more schools in the near future and continue that steady growth rate every couple of years.

The question that the NCAA must answer is, if D-III continues to grow at such a rapid pace, is sub-division necessary? Sub-dividing the conference has been talked about as recently as a couple years ago at the NCAA convention in January.

An implementation of a Division IV was strongly considered. The basis of where schools would be placed was on how each school, more specifically each conference, voted on their rules and regulations.

The conferences that voted on more restrictive rules then the NCAA regulations already in place would be bumped down to Division-IV. UW-Whitewater and the WIAC fell into this category.

The discussion ultimately fell through, and it was decided that a fourth division would not work. The primary reason dealt with schools trying to possibly recruit athletes for D-IV and the near impossible challenges that would present. The discussion is still very much in the air as D-III will undoubtedly continue to grow.

“I don’t know what the answer is,” Edmonds said. “Neither does the NCAA, neither does the membership of Division-III. We cannot come to a decision on how to do that.”

A more likely scenario that could play out in the near future is the addition of emerging sports. Some of the emerging sports include lacrosse, hockey and rugby. The NCAA is reporting a growth in the Midwest for rugby and lacrosse.

“We aren’t in the position to add anything from either gender right now financially,” Edmonds said.

Edmonds stressed this only would happen if the commitment to proportionality stayed intact. The university’s commitment to proportionality would have to continue, or it would have to revert to the other two options in Title IX.

Chancellor Richard Telfer announced Edmonds as the interim athletic director on Aug. 22, 2013. Prior to the announcement, Edmonds served as the associate athletic director of compliance and student services, as well as senior woman administrator. She’s been employed by the university since 2004.

 

Paul Plinske’s take

Edmonds replaced former Athletic Director Paul Plinske, who accepted the same position at the University of Nebraska Kearney. During his tenure, Plinske was frequently rumored as a top candidate for Division-I athletic director positions.

Plinske believed the Warhawks could compete at a higher level and, for the most part, had the facilities to host such events.

“We would need to upgrade the Kachel Gymnasium and have a larger venue for basketball,” Plinske said. “We would also need to do something with our swimming and diving pool as well. But for the most part, we have what it takes here.”

The biggest problem Plinske faced, and the university would have to face, is offsetting the cost of scholarships.

“UW-Whitewater, like the other schools in the WIAC is all non-scholarship,” Plinske said. “So, in order for an institution to move to Division-I or Division-II, we would have to find a funding base that could handle the scholarships needed to compete at Division-I or Division-II.”

Edmonds touched on the philosophical and financial challenges that would come with a potential move to another division. She made it clear that, even with the outside chance of changing divisions, the university would not budge on its student-first, athlete-second mantra.

“Our philosophy as a campus, in my opinion, is not going to change,” Edmonds said. “If we would change divisions, you [we] would need to have the money on a consistent annually basis in order to support scholarships. You have to be able to write that off per student athlete per scholarship. We’re not there yet.”