Kansas City Athletics will be leaving the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) to rejoin the Summit League, beginning with the 2020-2021 school year. The Roos will be the 10th team in the conference, which mostly consists of midwest teams.
“We want to create the best student athlete experience for student-athletes here,” said Kansas City Athletics Director Dr. Brandon Martin.
The Roos last played in the Summit League during the 2012-13 school year.
“The Summit League is a better conference for the university and the welfare of student-athletes because of its location,” Martin said. “Only three WAC schools are in the Central Time Zone, meaning athletes often dealt with jet lag when they made trips to the West Coast.”
In the WAC, Kansas City had to travel as far as Seattle, Bakersfield, Calif., and Phoenix to play opponents.
“If you have to take six flights to compete in Seattle, three flights there and three flights back, that leaves less time for the student-athletes to recover,” Martin said. Playing in the Summit League gives athletes “more time to recover faster and perform at a higher level.”
“It is hard to do Grand Canyon, then Bakersfield. You have to wake up early in the morning after you just played a game to take more flights to go somewhere,” said guard Brandon McKissic. “Now it’s a short time frame. Planes drag on and dehydrate you and affect your recovery.”
Kansas City Athletics can travel by bus to compete in the Summit League, which gives it more time to rest and allow the academic support team to travel with them.
In the WAC, Kansas City’s closest opponent was Chicago State University. In the Summit League, it will be Nebraska-Omaha, which is only three hours away.
In addition to saving UMKC money, Martin hopes the new conference will help build a traveling fan base for the university. With opposing schools within a drivable distance, students can support their student-athletes on the road, as well as at home.
“It comes down to pride and school spirit, non student athletes being able to have an affiliation and being able to support their team and student-athletes,” Martin said. “The students are able to take a trip to Omaha or Denver and create a sense of pride and school spirit.”
The school will enter the Summit League with 14 athletic programs after cutting men’s tennis and women’s golf.
Martin said the resources and infrastructure of the athletic department were stretched too thin across 16 programs, and going down to 14 will help facilitate a better student-athlete experience.
The athletic department will still honor all scholarships and assist student-athletes who want to transfer via the NCAA Transfer Portal.