By Rachel George, Entertainment Editor
The University of Nebraska Board of Regents voted unanimously March 25 to accept UNO’s invitation to join the Summit League, moving the University to Division I athletics.
With this move, the University drops its football and wrestling programs and adds golf and soccer. The University eliminated these programs hoping to save money and match other schools in the Division I conference. The move is effective July 1.
More than a dozen speakers, many of whom were former football players and wrestlers, took the podium in hopes to sway the board. Many UNO students supporting the football and wrestling programs joined the athletes in protest.
“I can’t believe it was a unanimous decision,” said Esai Dominguez, a junior wrestler in a March 25 interview. “I was hoping there’d at least be some people on our side in the Board of Regents.”
Others, like Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Dave Boocker, spoke in support of the move. He explained UNO had a stronger academic fit with universities in the Summit League than the MIAA, UNO’s former conference for Division II sports.
“The new conference fits well with our institutional goals. Fiscally, we didn’t have much of a choice,” said Regent and UNO Student Body President Michael Crabb in a March 27 interview with the Gateway.
Though the Board of Regents and academic deans are hopeful for UNO’s future, not everyone is excited about the move to a Division I conference. Football players, wrestlers and their coaches were devastated by the move, which caused them to lose their programs.
UNO’s wrestling team may yet be saved with a move to St. Louis. The national champions visited Maryville University two weeks ago to discuss adding a wrestling program to the university’s athletics.
Maryville University is a small private university in its final year of transition to Division II athletics. It is a member of the Great Lakes Valley Conference, which does not sponsor a wrestling program.
Maryville would have to join a conference that includes wrestling or compete as an independent.
A decision is anticipated within the coming weeks.