Jeff Kolpack, Published December 12 2008
In Year 2, ‘Summit Plan’ staying on trackIt was 18 months ago when the “Summit Plan” was part of The Summit League’s name change from the Mid-Continent Conference. It was an initiative to upgrade facilities, budgets and staffing at every school.
The aim is to gain stability and visibility to the league, which endured more turnover than a fast food restaurant in the last decade.
All 10 schools had to share their first-year Summit Plan progress with one another at the recent Joint Council meetings. IPFW is set to begin a $42 million addition to its on-campus facility, Missouri-Kansas City is building a $9 million, 1,000-seat soccer stadium, Centenary is renovating its basketball arena, NDSU is one $15 million or so check away from a new basketball arena and South Dakota State built new softball and baseball fields.
But there’s nothing like winning to put your league on the map.
The Jackrabbits’ women’s basketball team defeated No. 25 Minnesota earlier this week and the Jacks are a win away tonight at Gonzaga from becoming the first conference basketball team to be ranked since Northern Illinois (since moved to Mid-American Conference) women sneaked in at No. 25 in the 1992-93 season. The only time a men’s team has gotten a Top 25 sniff was in 1986 when Cleveland State (since moved to the Horizon League) was No. 20 in the pre-season poll.
Obviously, the Jacks are carrying the league’s torch.
“It’s no longer a torch, it’s a Bunsen burner,” said league commissioner Tom Douple. “I saw them play last Saturday and they are the real deal.”
The Jacks are a premature baby of the Summit Plan. It’s a five-year initiative with the emphasis on future planning.
It will take at least that long before the league’s basketball facilities get up to snuff. NDSU needs one, although not as bad as IUPUI, UMKC and Western Illinois.
Basketball is the marquee sport in The Summit, which does not sponsor football. NDSU plays that sport in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. In basketball, the Missouri Valley has beautiful arenas almost everywhere.
The Missouri Valley does not need a Summit plan.
The Summit, however, does.
“They should be working on Year 2 right now,” Douple said of his league schools. “That’s the accountability of it.”
If a school did nothing, Douple said there are steps the league can take.
“We do hold the revenue distribution issue,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll never have to go down that route. We do have a system in place to where we could address that if it did ever happen.”
It’s one thing to have a Summit plan. It’s another to see it through and after 18 months, it appears the league is doing that. Although not easy in these economic times, NDSU can do its part by turning the BSA into what it really is: a full-time indoor track facility.
Readers can reach Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546 or email@example.com.
Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com