After winning its 3rd-straight National Championship in Division II NCAA wrestling, the University of Nebraska at Omaha has announced it will drop the program, along with football, in order to move its other sports up to Division I.
Faced with growing expenses and flat revenues that caused increasing infusions of state dollars into its budget, the athletic department just couldn't continue on its current course, campus leaders said.
The numbers simply don't work for taking the UNO football team up to the Football Championship Subdivision, the group of smaller Division I schools formerly known as Division I-AA. The cost of offering 27 additional football scholarships, and then adding women's sports to comply with gender equity requirements, are prohibitive, [UNO Chancellor John] Christensen and [Athletic Director Trev] Alberts said.
While wrestling is arguably the Maverick sport best equipped right now to compete on a Division I level, Alberts said it would be dropped under the plan to align the athletic department's offerings more closely with that of the Summit League. As part of that goal, UNO would add men's teams in soccer and golf.
As I said, this comes the day after the wrestling program won their third straight, and 8th overall, Div II National Championship yesterday.
UNO is my alma mater, although I was never really involved there. It's become much more of common school as a opposed to the commuter school it was for many years. This stinks for Omaha, in a way,because there were a lot of kids that had an alternate and good route for college and football wrestling if they weren't good enough for Division I. Both my high school coaches were national champions at UNO.
UNO has very much embraced the hockey team, which has been Div I since it started 10+ years ago. They just got knocked out of the conference finals this weekend, but they had HUGE crowds this year, regularly putting over 10,000 in the Qwest Center for home games. They made nearly $15,000 just auctioning off game-worn jerseys at the last regular-season home game. The basketball team stinks, but I can see Alberts's* is view that it can be a money maker down the road. Now they'll be able to go be patsies for major schools and bring in big checks.
Also, all other sports programs will be elevated to Division I as well. The women's soccer and softball teams have won Division II National Championships in the past decade. I think this will be good for them.
This will definitely benefit Iowa Western Community College's new football program, and likely Iowa as well. I also wonder if it would help Iowa or Nebraska's wrestling programs. In the past, if you're likely to be a 4-time All American in Division II at UNO or a walk-on at Nebraska, UNI, Iowa, etc., you might choose the former. What choice do they make now?
Anywho, this is OT, but I think it's tangentially relevant.