Salutations comrades! Welcome to yet another Life, Love… Sport (Special Edition). Historically, this week in sports has typically been a slow one due to a lack of football (unless you count the Senior Bowl and, seriously, who does?), the lack of quality basketball (damn Wake Forest) and the utter lack of baseball. So we shall skip all of the garbage that has been going down and move into a rant that is near and dear to my heart.
Normally, I don’t talk about topics that concern our school because, quite frankly, this is a national column, and I just don’t care enough. But I think that it’s time that someone spoke up for and championed our basketball teams. Some might say that UR cannot support a major athletic program, because we’re too small. That isn’t a valid argument because Wake Forest, a school that has just over 4,000 undergraduate students, not only has the fourth-ranked basketball program, but also a pretty decent football program, so the size of the school cannot be a legitimate excuse.
Here’s my idea: Let’s start the transition to a full Division I program. It takes five years, and it will probably suck for a while, but that’s something I can live with, because I know that eventually the team would be awesome.
Remember that one time last year when UR was ranked in the top three, and we played Washington University in St. Louis, and the crowd was electric? Now imagine that for an entire season. It would be so intense and amazing. I bet some of you are saying that it would cost too much. To that, LLS says, ‘not so.” There’s a reason that you see Eastern Central New Mexico Tech play Duke. It’s because Duke kicks in upward of 60 grand for the game. It is totally within the realm of possibility for UR to play a schedule that includes several butt whoopings a year and raise an enormous amount of money that could be used to update the facilities and lure more staff over to our school.
Plus, our head coach has been here for 33 years, and we’ve won basically everything there is to win at the Division III level. Why we haven’t moved on up is beyond my comprehension. It would take a few years, but I’m sure that Coach Neer would be able to get some solid recruits. Let’s not forget that the current coach at Villanova University, Jay Wright, was actually an assistant here in 1984, meaning we clearly have the coaching staff necessary to make the jump. And for all of you who say that academics would be a hindrance to recruiting, Boston College and Vanderbilt have some stringent standards, and they’re perennial March Madness participants.
What’s that you say? The competition would be too tough? Currently, there are 347 Division I basketball teams, like Kennesaw State University and St. Francis University (PA). Even today, I’m confident that our team could beat at least 20 of the schools currently playing in the top division.
So what am I proposing? Take UR, start the transition to Division I and, after five years, stick us in the Northeast Conference with schools like Fairleigh Dickinson and Central Connecticut State, fill up the schedule with money games against some big schools that will raise funds to improve the facilities for a couple of years, hire a young ace recruiter to get some pipelines started and then just play a normal slate of games after several years.Would we make the tournament after even a decade? Probably not. I feel as though our school would eventually have one of those magical years where everything falls just right. We would make a run to the Elite Eight every other decade or so. Our school would finally be able to compete with those losers from Syracuse University, and maybe even develop a rivalry that could grow to national significance, and Dick Vitale and his annoying smoker voice can come to our campus. Think of the possibilities!
Also, think of all the money! I know for a fact that, right now, we don’t sell nearly enough merchandise to make money. Can you imagine the amount of cash that having a Division I basketball team could bring in? It would be a cash cow!
So I call on you, President Seligman, to establish a committee that would look into reclassifying our basketball programs as Division I status. I would happily volunteer my services to make that dream a reality. It is time that we combine our lofty academic rankings with an athletic tradition that we can all be proud of.
Until 1859, the umpire sat behind home plate in a padded rocking chair.
Maystrovsky’s column appears weekly. Maystrovsky is a member of the class of 2009.