“I did a comprehensive review of our department, from a student-athlete welfare standpoint and from a financial standpoint. I thought it was important we make a decision on who do we want to be and where do we want to go. That’s a journey and it all begins with one step. This is a step.” – Brandon Martin, UMKC Athletics Director
After seven years as a member of the Western Athletic Conference, The University of Missouri-Kansas City has accepted an invitation to return to the Summit League. UMKC said Thursday it has notified the Western Athletic Conference of its intention to withdraw after the end of the upcoming academic year. The school will begin play in the Summit League in the 2020-21 academic year.
It was a decision that UMKC AD Brandon Martin says will benefit the student-athletes and the university in a few ways.
“Our primary job is to best position our student-athletes to have great campus experiences, as well as to optimize their potential athletically. When UMKC joined the WAC, travel began to impact the student-athletes. When you travel to Bakersfield that’s 1,600 miles, to Seattle that’s 1,800 miles. In the Summit League, we don’t have to travel more than 1,000 miles.”
He tells CollegeAD with less travel comes a large amount of financial savings.
“We are going to save significant amounts of money by not having to put our kids on planes for every competition.”
Martin says those savings will be put to good use inside the athletic department and will benefit the student-athletes.
“This is all part of our comprehensive excellence agenda of building that championship culture. When we have cost savings, we are going to reinvest in the infrastructure of our sports programs. This was a critical move we had to make.”
UMKC will give the Summit League 10 schools, joining Denver, Purdue University Fort Wayne, North Dakota, North Dakota State, Nebraska Omaha, Oral Roberts, South Dakota, South Dakota State, and Western Illinois. All of the participating schools are closer to home and will hopefully develop a more engaged fanbase.
“It allows us to build and traveling fan base and rivalries. Right now, we don’t have rivalries, who are we going to have a rivalry with? Chicago State? New Mexico State? Our fans remember the time we were in the Summit League, now we’ll have fans that can travel and we’ll have rivalries.”
When UMKC was a member of The Summit League from 1994-2013, the university captured multiple championships in men’s soccer (2001, 2003, 2010), men’s tennis (1998-2000, 2010-13), softball (2002, 2011) and indoor and outdoor track and field titles on both the men’s and women’s side from 1997-2000 during its first 19-year run.