Athletics’ move to RMAC problematic, coaches say

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Despite Dixie State University athletic’s plan to apply for full membership of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, many coaches are opposed to changes the move would bring to their programs.

Athletic Director Jason Boothe announced Dixie State University would be applying for full membership in the RMAC at the board of trustees meeting Sept. 23.

Boothe and President Biff Williams will present DSU as a potential member of the RMAC Oct. 25 at a conference meeting in Denver. Members of the conference will then vote, and if DSU gets at least two-thirds of the vote, they will be in the RMAC for the 2018-19 season.

Boothe said DSU would be one of 13 public schools in the RMAC, making the conference a better long-term fit for DSU.

“[DSU’s] athletic budgets would be a lot more similar to [RMAC teams’] athletic budgets,” Boothe said. “In the PacWest, there are some schools, namely private schools, that not only have a higher athletic budget than us, but they’re are a lot higher.”

The move will put all of DSU athletic teams in one conference. Swimming currently competes in the Pacific Collegiate Swim Conference, because the Pacific West Conference doesn’t have swimming, so moving to the RMAC would bring them into the same conference as DSU’s other teams. 

As for head baseball coach Chris Pfatenhauer, he said he does not see the move as beneficial.

“I just don’t think it’s the right move for the majority of our sports,” Pfatenhauer said. “[The move] is going to cost the school more money, it’s going to cause longer travel times, whether that’s on a bus or on airplanes, and our players will miss more school.”

Pfatenhauer said he is worried about athletes from warm weather climates like California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii, because a majority of DSU teams are made up of players from these climates, and moving to the RMAC will affect recruiting.

“Playing in locations where you recruit is vital to those kids wanting to play in your program, because they get to go back home and their parents, friends, and families get to see them play,” Pfatenhauer said. “So [the move] will greatly change our recruiting plan.”

Pfatenhauer also said the RMAC has Sunday games almost every week, while the PacWest has games on few Sundays throughout the season.

“Obviously, with the large number of religious students here, [Sunday games] create a problem,” Pfatenhauer said. “Not to mention, our athletes won’t get a day to rest. They will get home early Monday morning and then still have to go to class that same day. It will be a grind all seven days of the week for them.”

Head women’s soccer coach Kacey Bingham said she doesn’t believe that moving to the RMAC would be the best move for soccer.

Bingham said she is concerned about outdoor play, weather, elevation, travel components and Sunday play when it comes to moving conferences. But she said at the end of the day, although she might not love it, the team is still committed to winning every game in whatever conference it is in.

“We’re not in favor of [the move],” Bingham said. “But if that is the ultimate decision, we want our kids to be on board, and we will support it the best we can, even though we wish we were staying in the PacWest.”

Head volleyball coach Robyn Felder said the RMAC school locations are more of a grind, but she sees the move as something new and exciting.

“[The volleyball team] has established itself as one of the top teams in the PacWest,” said Felder. “So we will kind of have to start over. It’s a good challenge for us.”

Felder said the athletic funding in the PacWest gave DSU a disadvantage, so being in the RMAC would even the playing field for everyone.

“Change is hard,” said Felder. “But I think that [the move] will be better for everyone in the long run.”