After originating in the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) the Roosevelt University Lakers are making the jump to NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Division 1, the highest level of college athletics. They will be making the switch from their current conference, the CCAC, to the Big Ten. Where they will compete with the likes of the University of Illinois, Northwestern, Michigan State and Wisconsin. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany made the announcement on Monday morning and the Lakers will officially be moved to the conference on April 1.
Delany had this to say about the move, “We’re excited to have Roosevelt join the conference. Now we might finally have an Illinois school that won’t always finish last and can actually own the title of ‘Chicago’s Big Ten Team.”’
Why make the move? After recent success in a few sports the department decided they wanted to take the success and run with it. Men’s basketball, soccer, golf and baseball are all coming off of terrific seasons along women’s volleyball, soccer and cross country as well. All of these sports are coming off of historic runner up finishes in the conference standings which gives the department as a whole the confidence needed to make this kind of jump.
“I think we’ve proved that we’re no longer the laughing stock of our conference,” said Laker Athletic Director Bob McGee. “This move will be great for all of our teams and athletes. It gives us a chance to up the competition and prove ourselves. We will continue to strive for more second place finishes and will be more competitive than Illinois from the start.”
Roosevelt will be the Big Ten’s 15th team, which will make the conference’s name even more confusing than ever before.
“After adding Nebraska in 2011, Maryland in 2014 and Rutgers in 2014, we really decided we wanted another team that didn’t sell tickets and just didn’t make sense. Roosevelt will be the perfect fit for our conference,” said Delany.
Roosevelt’s social justice mission is already having an impact on the conference. They’ve proposed the conference do away with all conference championships and give all teams a trophy at the end of their season. This way everyone feels like a winner regardless of the work they put in. The NCAA as a whole as taken great interest in this proposal and it could become universal before 2020.
When talking to men’s basketball coach Cliff Conrad about the move, he said, “this is a fantastic opportunity for us as a department and as a school. Having the chance to compete with better competition and share our social justice mission with a bigger audience will make a big impact on all of our athletes and the school. We look forward to winning participation trophies for the school and for the conference.”
Roosevelt’s first game against a Big Ten opponent will be April 2 in Men’s Tennis in the “Battle for Chicago” Tournament between the University of Illinois, Roosevelt and Northwestern.