By Matt Gilmore, Kpreps.com
Posted: March 17, 2011 - 12:27 AM
On Saturday night, the University of Nebraska-Omaha (UNO) won its third consecutive wrestling national championship. On Sunday morning, it was announced that the school reportedly plans to drop the wrestling and football programs and join the NCAA Division I ranks in the Summit League.
The sudden move was a surprise to the schools current conference, the Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA), and will potentially leave several former Kansas high school football stars without a place to play. The Summit League doesnt have football, but three current member schools (North Dakota State, South Dakota State, and Western Illinois) compete in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
UNO had been heavily recruiting high school athletes from the Sunflower League in the Lawrence and Kansas City area over the past couple of seasons. The 2010 Maverick football roster lists eight student-athletes from Kansas high schools, including running back James Franklin III, and athlete Camren Torneden. Franklin, the former Olathe North star that broke all of Darren Sproles school records, rushed for 766 yards and a team high 10 touchdowns for the Mavericks as a true freshman in 2010. Torneden, a Lawrence Free State product, averaged 33.5 yards per kickoff return on 11 attempts including a 94-yard touchdown return against Pittsburg State.
The Mavericks had signed five more student athletes from Kansas high schools this past February. These include WR/DB Nick Bandy from Olathe Northwest, TE Alex Knorr from Gardner-Edgerton, DE Devyn McPhaull from Leavenworth, LB Taylor Ratzlaff from Maize, and LB Kyle Swartz from Olathe North.
A statement on UNOs athletic website indicates that the school will honor scholarships for student-athletes in football and wrestling, but advisors will be available should those impacted wish to transfer. The Maverick football team finished the 2010 season with a 5-6 record.
The Summit League is currently a ten member conference featuring Centenary, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW), Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), University of Missouri-Kansas City, North Dakota State, Oakland (Mich.), Oral Roberts, South Dakota State, Southern Utah, and Western Illinois.
Former Kansas High School athletes on Mavericks 2010 Roster:
* Fleming, Kent JR DT 5-9, 309 Tonganoxie
* Franklin III, James FR RB 5-9, 175 Olathe North
* Lisher, Michael FR OL 6-2, 260 Lawrence Free State
* Peete, Jason FR S 6-3, 185 Olathe North
* Shepherd, Bryan FR-RS DB 5-10, 175 Olathe North
* Torneden, Camren FR RB/KR 5-8, 170 Lawrence Free State
* Williams, Nick SO DE 6-4, 235 Olathe Northwest
* Wolfe, Austin FR OL 6-4, 245 Olathe Northwest
UNO February 2011 Kansas High School Football Signees:
* Bandy, Nick WR/DB 6-1, 175 Olathe Northwest
* Knorr, Alex TE 6-4, 230 Gardner-Edgerton
* McPhaull, Devyn DE 6-3, 240 Leavenworth
* Ratzlaff, Taylor LB 6-3, 190 Maize
* Swartz, Kyle LB 6-2, 215 Olathe North