TCU Daily Skiff Wednesday, February 11, 2004
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All sports programs anticipate move to Mountain West
Coaches in several sports gear up for the conference change.

By Drew Irwin
Staff Reporter

Football is god in Texas. And football runs the show for colleges in Texas. So when football wants to change conferences, all other athletic programs must go along for the ride.

“Anything that happens to football drastically affects all the other sports,” said Jim Schlossnagle, head coach of the baseball team. “So if something affects football, it affects everybody.”

Schlossnagle already knows the Mountain West Conference. Before coming to TCU, he was the head coach at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas for two seasons.

Schlossnagle said the issue of conferences is not as important in his sport because of the college baseball playoff system. Rice University, who will be joining Conference USA in 2005, is a good example of how a champion can emerge from a smaller conference, he said.

“Rice won the championship last year, but the novice sports fan probably doesn’t even know what league they’re in,” he said. “So I think as long as we play well in Texas, we’ll be fine.”

One of the biggest draws for baseball in the MWC is former San Diego Padres’ right fielder Tony Gwynn, now the head coach at San Diego State. But Schlossnagle said he will not be intimated by the coach across the field.

“I’ve already had the opportunity to meet him, and that was nice,” Schlossnagle said. “But as a coach, I could care less if it’s Babe Ruth or Tony Gwynn coaching the other team; I’m just trying to win games.”

David Rubinson, the head coach of the women’s soccer team, said he is eager to see how his team will react when they enter the new conference.

“There’s a different style of play in the Mountain West that I hope we can adapt to,” Rubinson said. “We want to be a possession-oriented soccer team, but there are some things we’ve got to do to up our game to keep up with the other teams in that conference.”

The MWC had a successful women’s soccer season in 2003, sending three teams to the tournament, while C-USA only sent one. Brigham Young reached the quarterfinals, losing to eventual runner-up Connecticut.

Prentice Lewis, head coach of the volleyball team, said she is looking forward to the move.

“The Mountain West is a great volleyball conference,” Lewis said. “Not unlike C-USA, which is also a great conference.”

Last season, Utah won the Mountain West, going 6-0 in conference play. However, Colorado State ended the season higher in the rankings as the No.12 team in the nation after reaching the regional championship.

Mike Hamrick, athletics director at UNLV, is familiar with both conferences, having also been the former athletics director at East Carolina. He said TCU will face a difficult conference schedule in every sport.

“The competition is outstanding from my standpoint,” Hamrick said. “There’s really not an easy place to play because there’s a lot of parity.”

Hamrick said most athletics directors around the conference are excited about TCU joining their conference.

“Everyone seems genuinely excited,” Hamrick said. “We, as athletic directors, are absolutely thrilled because it adds credibility to our league. I think its win-win for everyone.”

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