Does the KCAC really need to add Avila?

By Steve Sell
June 08, 2017

The Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) has now spilled over the border into three states.

The KCAC on Wednesday announced that Avila University of Kansas City, Mo., is joining the fold beginning with the 2018-19 academic year.

This brings the number of schools in the conference to 13, a number generally not associated with anything positive.

Apparently the “K” in KCAC just doesn’t stand for Kansas anymore.

I railed when the KCAC added Oklahoma Wesleyan. Then York College of Nebraska came aboard. Now it’s Avila.

Is there going to be a movement to change the conference name to “Tri-State Athletic Conference?”

I’m wondering if there’s a school in Colorado the KCAC deems worthy to bring the conference back to an even number and to enclose the one open border.

I’ve been to Avila, which is a stone’s throw over the Kansas state line, as it was the site of the Hy-Vee Classic that McPherson High participated in for four years. It’s a nice campus with decent facilities. I’m sure it’s a fine institution of higher learning with good people. I have nothing personally against the school.

But it just doesn’t seem like a good fit.

I know KCAC Commissioner Scott Crawford is all about expansion and believes having more schools makes the conference more attractive nationally. He’s done a great job as commissioner and brought the conference a lot of prestige. This is one idea, though, I have a hard time going along with.

One of the reasons I’ve heard about adding Avila is that many of KCAC schools have alumni in the Kansas City area.

Maybe my problem is I’m a traditionalist. I liked the KCAC when it was at 10 teams, all from Kansas. It made scheduling much more flexible. It felt more like a family as there was a tight bond among the 10 schools. Saint Mary was the last school added and it now feels like one of “us.”

This past year, for the first time, the KCAC played a 22-game conference basketball schedule. Eight of those games were played before Christmas. There were players that went home for the holiday break probably dreading coming back since their teams were already out of the conference and playoff chase. Their incentive surely had to be affected.

Now when Avila comes on board, does that mean there will be a 24-game conference schedule? I talked with a lot of coaches during this past season and I couldn’t find a single one that had a good thing to say about the grueling 22-game gauntlet.

When the KCAC had 12 schools, it was my proposition to divide the conference into two divisions, a North and South. Members in the same division would play twice a year, then play single games against the other division. That made for a 16-game conference schedule, more than enough. I know coaches like to play several non-conference games before delving into regular play as they want to develop their teams at a steady pace.

Who’s to say the KCAC won’t be adding a 14th school? I’m sure Central Christian College of McPherson is wondering what it has to do to be accepted because I know it’s applied in the past and it already schedules KCAC teams in many sports. It’s now headed to the Sooner Athletic Conference, which in my opinion will be detrimental considering all the lengthy road trips to places such as Texas Wesleyan, Southwestern Assemblies of God and John Brown University. It would be a lot handier for CCC to go to Bethany, Tabor, Bethel and a hop, skip and jump across town to McPherson College. I guess that makes too much sense.

I’m sure the conference didn’t rush to make this decision, that it did its due diligence and research. I guess it’s the “old school” in me that is fighting against expansion. But playing Oklahoma Wesleyan and York didn’t seem to evoke the same emotions as playing Tabor and Bethany. Neither will Avila.


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