The announcement of no sports this fall by the Mountain West was a severe blow. And with every game played by other conferences, it becomes even more challenging. No football was by far the biggest loss, both financially and from an entertainment standpoint. Even with football announcing its intent to return, it is important to remember the other fall sports not being played was a significant loss as well. Perhaps not from a financial standpoint and maybe not even from an entertainment factor for the average person. However, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t something lost in the Mountain West Conference. This article will look at the teams who lost the most from the no Olympic Sports this fall.
Olympic sports don’t get the fanfare that football and basketball do. They surely don’t see the same revenue those other sports do, as these sports bottom lines have considering fewer commas in their numbers. But less revenue and less TV time don’t mean the sports don’t matter or don’t have an impact, far from it.
Successful sports aid enrollment. Of course, it depends on how successful the sport is as well as what sport it is, but it’s positive no matter what. Success also boosts endeavors on the recruiting front. Seeing an Olympic sport on TV, even a few times a year, or catching highlights online makes a difference to junior high and high school athletes with college aspirations. Again if you are successful in a sport, any sport, and market the sport to any degree, young athletes in that sport will know about it and want to play there. There’s a reason college programs have sustained success, and that reason is continuing to bring in talent year after year. Of course, coaches developing that talent is necessary, too, but the talent needs to be there before it can be developed. All of this is true in football and basketball, and it’s true in non-revenue sports as well.
Even non-revenue can be misleading. Since many of these sports only give out partial scholarships, splitting them between members of the team. From that point alone, money is brought into the school by students who would likely not choose to go there. Matt Brown of Extra Points details this exceptionally well in one of his posts.
Men’s and Women’s Cross Country
The women’s twelve-time defending tournament champs are among the best programs in the conference in any sport. Yes, twelve in a row. The last year they didn’t win the conference tournament? The 2007 fall season. Half of the current Mountain West members weren’t even in the conference then. The men’s team is often among the league leaders as well. Adding to their success, they have also produced the individual conference champion the past four seasons. Talk about a dynasty.
Joe Franklin coaches both teams and his first year was that aforementioned 2007 season. It’s Franklin’s program from top to bottom, and they are the class of the conference with several standouts. The star of the team is Weini Kelati, the MWC individual champion and was an NCAA individual champion, is a senior, and was bound to break records and add to her hardware during the last leg of her successful career.
Others losing out: Utah State, Boise State
The Bronco’s soccer program has burst on the scene the last two years, providing another emerging strong sport at Boise State. While they lost their leading scorer from last season, the roster is still full of talent. Senior Aubree Chatterton is coming off an All-MWC First Team selection and seems primed to lead the Broncos as their returning goal and point scorer. Stud goalkeeper Sydney Smith burst on the scene as a sophomore and figures to be one of the best in the conference whenever she returns to the field. 5th Midfielder Mikayla Schachtell will bring a lot of experience if she intends to come back next fall. Then a duo of defenders, Kennedi Paul, Macie Nelson, and Smith, figured to continue their dominating defense that produced a 0.85 goals-against average and ten shutouts from last season.
Although the Broncos lost several goal-scorers from last season, they returned veterans in other areas. It would have been interesting to watch the new and returning blend of the course of the year for the defending champs. Head Coach Jim Thomas is on the verge of a perennial top of the Mountain West team, and it is worth following that quest whenever women’s soccer returns.
Others losing out: San Diego State, Colorado State
The Rams have developed into a powerhouse in the volleyball department, winning the conference the past three seasons. Long-time coach Tom Hilbert has been the head coach for a remarkable 24 seasons, longer than the Mountain West has been a conference. He has built a consistent winner during that time, as they have made the NCAA tournament in every season of his tenure. Hilbert has been recognized for his accomplishments, with 12 MWC coach of the year awards to his name. He has already been inducted into the Colorado State Hall of Fame. Even more impressive, Hilbert is the winningest coach in school history in any sport. Simply put, their volleyball program is one of the top sports programs in the conference.
This season, the Rams figured to be led by many talented players. First is Breana Runnels, a redshirt senior who is the team’s leader returner in kills. Senior defensive specialist Alexa Roumeliotis led the team in digs and has more than the second and third place teammates combined. Also, there is defender, ace server, and rising sophomore Alyssa Bert who should step into a more prominent role this season. The team will be young at setter and middle blocker positions, but Ciera Zimmerman figures to step up, and there is a lot of size in the middle. When the Rams return to play, they figure to continue their winning ways with little trouble.
Others losing out: UNLV, Wyoming