While Mountain East schools prepare for the upcoming basketball season the league’s first football season seems to be going well.
Football, or the lack of it, is one reason the colleges started the Mountain East Conference. Throughout the year-long process of forming the Conference, Shepherd University officials pointed to the benefits of being aligned with other football-playing schools.
“Because as an institution football is very resource intensive, it can bring obviously a lot of pride to an institution but you’re looking at a coaching staff that’s larger than others because you have a squad size that’s larger than others,” B.J. Pomroy, Shepherd athletic director said. “In some schools their football roster is larger than the rest of their department combined.”
“That being the case as a football-playing school knowing that some of the other schools don’t have that resource outlay to have a successful program they can put their resources into maybe some other sports and maybe emphasize those,” Pomroy added.
Pomroy said so far football season in the new conference has gone well. Concord University Head Coach Garin Justice agrees.
“I think each team in the league is getting better,” Justice said. “I think with a new conference teams are upgrading what they do as far as scholarships, facilities, coaching staffs, I think they're doing a lot more putting a lot more money in those programs and therefore you’re seeing the results with better football teams.”
And Justice believes things will only get better for all sports at schools in the Mountain East Conference.
“I just think there is a higher level of professionalism that goes along with it,” he said. “It gives us more of a, I guess a brand within the nation.”
Justice said it's good to have a unified front as far as basketball, football, baseball go.
“All the teams are in the same conference and that really gives us some strength as far as the national level,” Justice said.
Nine of the 15 colleges in the old West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference had football teams. The Mountain East Conference has 12 schools and all but one hosts a football team, giving them more in-conference games to play each year.
Pomroy said that will help the schools when they go to NCAA Division 2 playoffs.
“I think the top to bottom of our conference will have more formidable opportunities in that, again, with the like-minded institutions and the opportunities of the sports that they sponsor to the level that they sponsor I think all in all our league will become more competitive with our regional conferences,” Pomroy said.
“I think our student athletes will have a better experience than they were used to in a previous conference,” he added.
Right now Shepherd and Concord are among the top football teams in the Mountain East Conference. The Conference web site says Shepherd has a 7-0 in-conference record. Concord is tied for second with Urbana Ohio University, with each school at 6-1.