A recently released report Wright State University paid for concluded its athletics program should remain at the NCAA’s Division I level.
Well … yeah. There’s no reason to leave the financial summit when you’ve arrived. As long as you’re interested in that sort of thing.
Wright State needs to act like a school which really is into remaining at the highest collegiate level though and should do so soon.
There have been far more programs making the move upward than heading down. The MRJ Advisors report which Wright State received cited 60 programs in the last 25 years who have advanced to D-I with only five voluntarily making the choice to transition down.
The University of Hartford recently was one of the five that announced it would be dropping from D-I to D-III. Even after its men’s basketball team made its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2021, it decided to maintain its course in May to “further strengthen its … wellness experience for all students,” according to its Board of Regents.
Not on the same scale as moving all of the sports, Robert Morris University cut its hockey program in 2020, saw an influx of support from fans and donors afterward, and decided to recently reinstate the program.
The smaller move by Robert Morris makes so much more sense than Hartford’s for the “wellness” of its students. Athletics brings visibility in a way you don’t see anywhere else anymore.
A study called the “Cinderella Effect” published in December 2020 showed between 1985 and 2017, winning in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament produced on average $7.3 million in free advertising for schools, as well as an increase in enrollment between 2 and 5 percent in the two years immediately following the tournament.
Are we going to see the Raiders reach the levels of success or recognition an in-state powerhouse like Ohio State has in the next 20 years? It’s a safe assumption without the power of football that will not happen. Football is the driving force in athletic revenue at OSU, as the majority of schools struggle to turn revenue from its Olympic sports, which Wright State exclusively sponsors at the moment.
In five years, the Raider athletic department’s recruiting budget has been reduced by 49 percent, marketing by 28 percent, and equipment by 20 percent. All while increasing salaries by 6 percent and guarantees by 1,000. Student aid has steadily averaged close to $2.9 million while hitting $3 million in 2020.
The MRJ report is the second time in four years it’s been concluded Wright State won’t save any money moving down levels in the NCAA structure.
It’s currently nearing the end of a waiver granted by the NCAA to remain D-I after cutting three sports, men’s and women’s tennis along with softball, in spring 2020. The Raiders’ athletic department must add three sponsored sports back by the fall of 2022 to maintain its status, or the NCAA will force the move itself.
Wright State’s words continue to be keen to retain its status among the top of the college sports landscape and rightfully want to head in the correct direction. Its actions need to reflect it more, if it wants to continue having sports at all.