SEC switch alters competition, athletes

infographic+by+Maria+Kalaitzandonakes

infographic by Maria Kalaitzandonakes

Anna Wright

infographic by Maria Kalaitzandonakes
infographic by Maria Kalaitzandonakes

The University of Missouri-Columbia recently left the Big 12 Conference in favor of joining the Southeastern conference, a change which came into effect during this fall’s sports season.

The switch occurred in order to provide MU sports programs with a more financially stable future, University of Missouri football defensive line student assistant Tim Struckhoff said.

The marketing of the University of Missouri and the athletic teams was largely part of the change to the South Eastern Conference as well as the attention the teams would receive and how they would promote the rights of athletics, Struckhoff said. However, this switch has resulted in heightened competition among other universities.

“The athletic department has made a move into what has become the most dominant conference in college … the numbers for football and men’s basketball are ridiculous in this conference and to have teams that consistently win national championships raised the bar for the staff and the players,” Struckhoff said. “I think kids in the local areas like KC and St. Louis will try harder to get Mizzou to look at them, but it’s all up to the kids. As a whole, though, I think it is a positive transition because we are the most northern SEC school and the only D1 school in Missouri.”

Sophomore Sophie Cunningham, a basketball player who verbally committed to Mizzou at the beginning of her freshman year, said MU joining the SEC will be a positive change for the basketball team. Although MU left the Big 12 after she committed, Cunningham remains loyal to the team and is in full support of the change.

“I think the switch will still give us good competition and a challenge,” Cunningham said. “The teams that are in the SEC are expected to be very professional in some ways and it’s a privilege for Mizzou to be represented by them.”

The RBHS potential collegiate student athletes have excitement about the change and are optimistic about MU’s upcoming performance in the SEC, Physical Education teacher Candace Juorgenson said.

She said sports fans expect the MU basketball teams to finish strong in the SEC, although the case may be different in the realm of football, as their season has quickly ended without a bowl appearance.

“I think that, overall, the people that I’ve heard from, they’re all excited about being in the SEC,” Jorgenson said. “I think that football kind of had a disappointing season that shocked a lot of people, but I would expect basketball to have a little bit stronger showing.”

Senior football player Kenny James is also skeptical of the Tigers’ welfare in the SEC. He said the University of Missouri football team may not be up to par or ready for this increased level of competition. Despite his opinion that they are a talented team, James believes that they are now in the wrong league of competition and as a result, no longer follows MU football.

James, who has been recruited to play for Indiana State, Missouri State and Illinois State, among others, said that though he would like to play in the SEC, he would not want to do so at MU.

“It all depends on where you go,” James said. “I would love to play in the SEC, but … Mizzou can’t run with the SEC.”

James said because the switch raised the bar so high for MU’s football team the demand for talented and higher-quality team members has increased. Because of this change, he said MU made changes to their specified recruitment style, as well.

“Last year they were in the Big 12, so they recruited in town, but now since they’ve moved to the SEC they recruit out of town first,” James said. “They want more talented players so they’re kind of getting greedy with it.”

Despite the heightened competition of the SEC, Cunningham remains optimistic about the upcoming athletic seasons. She supports University officials in their decision to move out of the Big 12 and step into a new and improved ring of competition.

“Mizzou had to do what was best for each athletic team,” Cunningham said. “I am excited for the future.”

By Anna Wright