By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
Missouri Southern joined the NCAA Division II ranks and the MIAA for the 1989-90 school year.
But it wasn’t the Lions’ original idea to leave the NAIA.
“The vision was from Ed Harris (former athletics director) at Missouri Western. This was his deal,” Jim Frazier, the AD at Missouri Southern at the time, said Tuesday afternoon. “There was no way we would allow Missouri Western to leave the NAIA and the CSIC (Central States Intercollegiate Conference) and not be a part of that.
“There was no way Pittsburg State would let us go and not be a part of that, and Washburn’s AD was totally in tune that he wanted Washburn to be a part of it. A domino effect is what it was.
“There was no disenchantment and no animosity with the NAIA whatsoever. It was a matter of keeping up with the Jones, and the credibility it gave our university in comparison to other state universities is what the MIAA brought to us. It was a question of positioning ourselves for the long term hopefully, and it’s turned out really well. I thought it was a smooth transition and a great transition.”
Also, the change was good financially.
“The difference in financial support and structure, there was no comparison,” Frazier said. “In the NAIA baseball experiences, it cost us money to send our teams to regional and national play. The NCAA, they pay all our expenses. That was a biggie.”
The departure caused some hard feelings from the remaining four CSIC schools — Emporia State, Fort Hays State, Kearney State and Wayne State (Neb.).
“Those meetings were interesting,” Frazier said. “Kearney and Emporia and the others were mad at us. It ended up with some bad feelings, but I was not going to be left out. No way would I let Missouri Western do something that we wouldn’t do.”
However, Emporia State joined the MIAA in 1991, Fort Hays State became an MIAA member in 2006, and Kearney State (now Nebraska-Kearney) was part of this year’s four-team expansion.
In fact, when Truman State leaves the league after this school year, there will be only four schools that were MIAA members 23 years ago when Missouri Southern joined the league — Central Missouri, Northwest Missouri State, Southwest Baptist and Lincoln, which actually left the league in 1999 but rejoined in 2010.
The newcomers in 1989 were welcomed into the league by most of the MIAA schools.
“They were ready to take us for the most part,” Frazier said. “We didn’t know whether Central Missouri would break away or what they would do. Southeast Missouri was very adamant. They didn’t want us.”
Southeast Missouri left the league and became a Division I school after the 1990-91 seasons. Missouri-St. Louis (1996) and Missouri-Rolla (2005) also left the league to become members of the Great Lakes Valley Conference, the same league that Truman State is joining next year.