News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Indiana State University

December 17, 2012

TODD GOLDEN: ISU needs to have its realignment head on a swivel

TERRE HAUTE — Have you ever driven past a cow pasture during a severe thunderstorm? If it’s really bad, the cows will congregate in a herd to protect themselves from the tumult.

I saw it once on a road trip in the middle of a hellacious hailstorm in deep southern Indiana and it was kind of awe-inspiring. A flash of lightning in the darkness and a crack of thunder on a barely drivable interstate, and to my right, there were about 10 cows on a lonely hillside huddled together to protect one another.

That’s how it’s felt to be in the Missouri Valley Conference since Division I conference realignment madness began in 2009. It seemed that the MVC’s schools had huddled together and avoided the damage that left some conferences — the Western Athletic Conference and the Big East Conference, to name two — in tatters.

In fact, it seemed the MVC would miraculously suffer no damage whatsoever … the MVC was the only major conference not to have a membership change since the mid-1990s.

And until last Friday, it appeared it would stay that way.

But all it took was a big tree to fall — in this case the implosion of the Big East — and it sent the MVC’s cows scattering.

Nothing official has happened in the MVC yet, but speculation began in earnest that the so-called Catholic Seven — the schools that officially announced their intention to split from the Big East on Saturday — are considering MVC lynchpin Creighton for membership in their new loop.

Moreover, speculation continues to swirl around Evansville and a potential departure to the Horizon League. Evansville continually denies it, but the rumored move continues to pop up on a semi-regular basis.

The Catholic Seven situation is not set in stone. It’s not known how many schools it intends to add and where Creighton ranks in their pecking order. It’s not known whether they will keep the Big East Conference name. It’s not known when the conference can legally be started based on Big East by-laws. There’s no existing TV contract and there’s a looming question as to whether the schools that leave get to keep their NCAA men’s basketball tournament units, a lucrative financial consideration.

But the cows are scattering amid the thunder and lightning that buffets the MVC. According to Indiana State Director of Athletics Ron Prettyman and other published reports, the MVC’s presidents were to discuss the matter of Creighton’s potential departure and the MVC’s future on Sunday.

“I pay attention to it. I know there’s a lot of talk. All I can say is that I trust [MVC commissioner] Doug Elgin and his staff. It’s a tremendous basketball league and I think everyone knows it. We’ve been together this far. This is a good home. If something changes, I’m sure Doug Elgin and his staff will handle it,” said ISU men’s basketball coach Greg Lansing after Saturday’s victory at IUPUI.

Where does all of this leave the Sycamores? Frankly, not in an ideal position. ISU has very little leverage to play.

“We have neither pursued another conference nor has another conference pursued us,” said Prettyman in Sunday’s Tribune-Star.

There is the chance that conference angst could be much ado about nothing. There are still scenarios at play that could strengthen the MVC.

If the Catholic Seven only want a 10-team conference, a possibility reported by ESPN on Sunday, it could benefit the MVC as Creighton would likely stay in the MVC and some Midwestern Atlantic 10 Conference schools could be ripe for the picking.

There are also the inevitable legal battles between the Catholic Seven and the remaining Big East teams, which could push the new league’s startup to 2014-15.

Then again, there are scenarios that could send the MVC into diminished relevance. The fear is that there could be a domino effect if Creighton leaves which sends other schools scattering to find new affiliation — a game of musical chairs that could have devastating consequences for the schools left without a chair.

What could be on the table for ISU? Here are some scenarios, a few more realistic than others:

• Maintain the status quo in MVC — This is the most comfortable option and the one that Prettyman said was ISU’s plan at present. The rewards and risks of this were mentioned above.

• Explore a move to the Horizon League — The Horizon League is a Midwestern-based, basketball-only league that has schools with budgets and outlooks that are similar to ISU’s. Without Butler, the league isn’t as strong as the current MVC, but there are still decent programs in it. Travel would be also be comparable to the MVC.

Youngstown State, a MVFC member, plays in the Horizon League, so ISU’s football program would not likely be impacted. If the MVC were to crater, this would be the league that would make the most sense for ISU to land in.

But the truth is that some Horizon schools could be poached by the MVC if it expands membership. So, in effect, if ISU maintains status quo it could end up with some current Horizon schools as partners anyway.

• Explore a move up to FBS football — FBS football would give ISU more conference alignment options (in theory) and would line ISU for better football paydays. Suddenly … the Mid-American Conference or Sun Belt Conference could be options.

If it were that simple to move up, it might have already happened, but ISU isn’t in anything like a financial or facility position to make the move to FBS. There are also Title IX considerations that come with the additional football scholarships required to play FBS football.

Moreover, a FCS school can’t just move up on its own, it must be invited by a FBS conference. Is any current FBS conference in a position where it would invite ISU? Highly doubtful. ISU’s stadium also doesn’t have the capacity to meet the minimum 15,000 FBS attendance requirement, nor anything like the support.

I’m not sure many current MVC/MVFC schools are ready for a move up, despite some schools (Illinois State, Northern Iowa) that have talked about it or allegedly explored it.

• Explore a move to the Ohio Valley Conference — Could ISU say the heck with it and put all of its eggs — football included — in the OVC’s basket? It’s been bandied about by some in the past, including a few ISU coaches from time to time.

For the love of all that is holy, I hope ISU to the OVC never happens.

My vehement opposition to the OVC aside, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for ISU if things get hairy in the MVC and options dry up elsewhere.

I’m dead set against OVC membership because I think ISU is too big for it: its facilities far exceed that of most OVC schools, OVC schools are rarely on TV, and ISU’s access to the NCAA Tournament in all sports would be severely curtailed.

It only makes sense from a budgetary standpoint … and even that’s questionable, as the MVC generates more revenue than the OVC. Sure ISU would likely get more Ws, but they’d be relatively meaningless Ws. I’d rather ISU aspire to win at the MVC level, even a diminished MVC, where the wins carry more weight.

The OVC would be a worst-case scenario for ISU. But in this landscape, it behooves one to say never say never.

The point of these scenarios is not to suggest a specific roadmap for ISU, but to suggest vigilance and open-mindedness.

ISU has a plan for athletics it is eager to achieve within its own timeline. But if the collegiate athletics landscape moves faster than ISU’s plan called for — it appears increasingly obvious that it is — the responsibility falls on ISU to be ready and willing to change with the times, not let change come to ISU whether it likes it or not.

ISU also needs to look out for its interests ahead of that of its conference. I can assure you that while the majority of the MVC schools are happy with their conference affiliation, as ISU is, they won’t think twice to make a move that suits their interests and leaves the stragglers behind.

ISU has to think the same way. It has to have its head on a swivel and be proactive, not reactive.

When those cows scatter in a field, most of the time, the majority make it through the storm. Vigilance and willingness to act will prevent ISU from being one of the unfortunates that doesn’t make it.

Todd Golden is sports editor of the Tribune-Star. He can be reached at (812) 231-4272 or Please follow him on Twitter @TribStarTodd

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Indiana State University
  • Degano2.jpg Bullpen mates: Three relievers coming on strong down stretch for Rex

    The Terre Haute Rex pitching staff ranks fifth among the 12 teams in the Prospect League in earned-run average this season and first in the league with only four home runs allowed all summer. But the Rex pitchers might be the best in the league the past two weeks as the team has had two shutouts and two games with one run allowed in the past week.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Prettyman wants ISU to be prepared for potential NCAA changes

    Against a rising tide of media, public and institutional sentiment that would suggest otherwise, Indiana State Director of Athletics Ron Prettyman believes that the current model of college athletics still works.

    July 26, 2014

  • SPT 102613 UNDER TACKLE.jpg Can Sycamores bounce back from rough 2013 season?

    One week before Indiana State begins preseason practice, there really is only one fundamental question that the Sycamore program faces.
    Can it win again?

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • ISU basketball trio earn national academic honors

    A trio of Indiana State basketball student-athletes have been named to the 2013-14 National Association of Basketball Coaches Honors Court as announced by the national organization. Honored from Indiana State were Lucas Eitel, Justin Gant and Jake Kitchell.

    July 23, 2014

  • Metro roundup: Post 346 rallies past Rockville

    Wayne Newton Post 346 scored a run in the sixth and two in the seventh to get past Rockville 6-3 in an American Legion baseball regional at Terre Haute North on Wednesday.

    July 23, 2014

  • Truebytower.jpg Memorable experience in Morocco for ISU soccer team could help team's growth

    Coming off the best season in its history, the Indiana State women’s soccer team figures to have the experience to do even better in the upcoming fall season.
    Or maybe that’s #TheExperience.

    July 23, 2014 11 Photos

  • Metro: ISU graduate Johnson sixth in shot at Monaco

    Indiana State graduate Felisha Johnson competed in her first International Association of Athletics Federations Diamond League track and field meeting Friday, placing sixth in a shot put competition that featured six of the top seven throwers in the world for 2014.

    July 18, 2014

  • MVC to shift women's basketball tournament to Moline, Ill.

    The Missouri Valley Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament will move 90 miles farther from Terre Haute beginning in 2016, the league announced Thursday.

    July 17, 2014

  • Metro: ISU-IU football game to be on ESPNEWS

    Indiana University announced Wednesday that the season opening game between Indiana State and IU will be played at noon on Sept. 30.

    July 16, 2014

  • Odum heads for Vegas with Kings summer team

    Terre Haute native Jake Odum scored three points in the Indiana Pacers’ 84-74 victory on Thursday over the Miami Heat in the Orlando Summer League.

    July 11, 2014

  • odum.jpg Odum has 5 points for Pacers in summer play

    Former Indiana State standout Jake Odum contributed five points, three assists and a steal in 15 minutes on the court Wednesday for the Indiana Pacers summer league team.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • MVC Tournament staying in St. Louis until 2018

    Missouri Valley Conference men's tournament staying in St. Louis until 2018.

    July 9, 2014

  • Odum scores 2 points off bench for Pacers

    Three of the top picks in last month’s draft are adjusting to NBA at different speeds at the Orlando Pro Summer League.

    July 7, 2014

  • SPT062714dans gardner1.jpg Gardner staying sharp with Danville

    This summer with the Danville Dans is a big one for Terre Haute native Cody Gardner, who wants to play a part in keeping Indiana State baseball successful in 2015.
    The former Terre Haute North High School standout painfully sat and watched as a Division I transfer as ISU made its ninth trip to the NCAA Tournament with a 35-win regular season.

    July 1, 2014 2 Photos

  • Metro: ISU’s Wise starts out well in USATF championships

    Indiana State sprinter Katie Wise advanced to the semifinals of the women’s 100 meters as she ran 11.42 seconds in the opening heat of the event Thursday evening at the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships.

    June 27, 2014

  • SPT021914ISUMBB odum.jpg ISU's Odum talks about agreeing to play for Pacers' summer-league team

    No team selected him in the two-round NBA draft Thursday night, but Terre Haute native and four-year Indiana State basketball standout Jake Odum agreed Friday to play for the Indiana Pacers’ summer-league squad next month.

    June 27, 2014 1 Photo 4 Stories

  • SPT 030914 ODUM FILE.jpg Steady success: ISU continued to climb ladder with one of its best overall seasons ever

    First of all, if you’re an Indiana State fan, stand up and applaud. The Sycamores collectively went where only one Sycamore athletic department went before in 2013-14. ISU finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference All-Sports Trophy standings. ISU recorded a score of 3.538, its highest in school history.

    June 25, 2014 6 Photos

  • SPT021914ISUMBB odum.jpg Jake Odum about to reach red letter date in his career

    Terre Haute’s Jake Odum made a name, a reputation and a wonderful career for himself during his four seasons at Indiana State. If nothing else were to happen in his basketball life, he’ll always be one of the Sycamores’ all-time best.
    Of course, Odum wants more. He wants to play in the NBA. Since ISU’s season concluded in late March, he’s been on a three-month quest to fulfill his dream.

    June 24, 2014 3 Photos 1 Story

  • Metro roundup: Odum to work out with Lakers

    Terre Haute native and former Indiana State guard Jake Odum will have two more workouts before next Thursday’s NBA Draft. Odum will work out with the Los Angeles Lakers today. Odum will have a second workout with the Orlando Magic next week before the draft.

    June 20, 2014 1 Story

  • ISU takes balanced approach with newcomer Tre Bennett

    Indiana State’s men’s basketball program recruited Tre Bennett to be its next starting point guard. Indiana State does not want to put too much pressure on Bennett in his first season.
    Those two sentences seem to be a contradiction. But ISU’s coaches and Bennett himself are hoping there’s a third way, a path where he can ease into a role as a contributor without the pressure, at least right off the bat, of being “the man.”

    June 18, 2014

  • SPT061214 ISUMBB parker.jpg New ISU coach Parker makes first impression

    Indiana State assistant coach Terry Parker hasn’t had too much time to make a first impression.
    Officially hired in late April, but identified as Dave Ragland’s replacement on Greg Lansing’s staff long before that, there haven’t been many team activities for Parker to take part in since he joined ISU’s staff from Utah Valley.

    June 13, 2014 2 Photos

  • Greggmar Swift advances to NCAA hurdles final

    Greggmar Swift advanced to the finals of the 110-meter hurdles to highlight Indiana State’s performances during day two of the NCAA Outdoor Championships at Hayward Field.

    June 13, 2014

  • Katie_Wise_(Credit_Chris_Zoeller).jpeg ISU taking mix of veterans, underclassmen to NCAAs

    With three sophomores among Indiana State’s record number of entrants heading to the NCAA outdoor track and field championships, the Sycamores are in position to have athletes competing for a national title for at least a couple more seasons.
    Katie Wise, in particular, has the potential to rack up multiple All-American accolades between now and the time she graduates in 2016.

    June 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pair of Sycamores selected in Major League Baseball draft

    Two Indiana State baseball players were chosen in the 2014 Major League Baseball draft Saturday.
    Senior shortstop Tyler Wampler, a 2010 graduate of West Vigo High School, went to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 17th round (519th overall) and junior catcher Mike Fitzgerald went to the San Diego Padres in the 27th round (807th overall).

    June 7, 2014

  • SPT041113lutz point.jpg Ex-Sycamore Lutz begins NFL journey with Colts

    The end of the journey. Or, really, just the beginning. That's how former Indiana State center FN Lutz described his emotions after signing a free-agent contract with the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday morning.

    June 4, 2014 1 Photo

  • Metro roundup: Rex opener postponed to today

    The Terre Haute Rex grand opening has been pushed back to today due to Monday’s thunderstorms.

    June 2, 2014

  • SPT 053114 LANDON CURRY FLY.jpg ISU baseball can't find lifeline

    Indiana State ends NCAA regional with 0-2 mark as its season ends.

    May 31, 2014 3 Photos

  • SPT 053114 MITCH HANNAHS.jpg FROM THE PRESS BOX: Hannahs strikes pitch perfect no-excuse, no-apology tone

    ISU coach Mitch Hannahs strikes pitch perfect no-excuse, no-apology tone.

    May 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT 053014 KEAFFABER THROW.jpg Despite loss, ISU's Keaffaber draws praise

    Indiana State pitcher Ryan Keaffaber lost to Stanford in NCAA regional, but his effort was lauded.

    May 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT 053014 CURRY SCORE.jpg Stanford's Quantrill controls Sycamores

    ISU is beaten 8-1 by Stanford in NCAA Regional.

    May 30, 2014 3 Photos

Latest News Poll
AP Video
Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix Mother of 2 Makes NFL Cheerleading Squad at 40 Judge OKs Record-setting $2B Sale of Clipper Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. Trial Begins Over OKC Bombing Video Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Suspect Dead, Marshals and Cop Wounded in NYC 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Raw: Airstrike Shatters Fragile Calm in Gaza
NDN Video
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now!

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010