UMKC Athletics Rejoins Summit League

Move will mean closer geographic competition, significant cost savings
UMKC men's basketball player lays the ball up over several opponents

The University of Missouri-Kansas City has accepted an invitation to rejoin the Summit League. UMKC Athletics will begin play in the Summit League during the next athletic year, effective July 1, 2020.

UMKC has notified the Western Athletic Conference of its intention to withdraw from that conference, effective June 30, 2020, after seven years in the league.

The Summit League will bring UMKC back into the orbit of a conference with teams mostly from the Midwest. The Summit League has a 36-year history of Division I athletics and has produced 12 NCAA champions. UMKC becomes the 10th member of the Summit League in 2020-21, joining University of Denver; Purdue University Fort Wayne; University of North Dakota; North Dakota State University; University of Nebraska Omaha; Oral Roberts University; University of South Dakota; South Dakota State University; and Western Illinois University.

“We’re thankful to the WAC and their commitment to Division I excellence. We accepted the invitation to return to the Summit League because, after careful review, we believe it will help us achieve our goals for UMKC Athletics,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal, Ph.D. “Under the leadership of Athletics Director Brandon Martin, we are elevating UMKC Athletics and creating a fan experience that is more engaging for our students and our community. A move to the Summit League will support those goals.”

The move will also help with another priority — streamlining the budget of Division I athletics. UMKC Athletics Director Brandon Martin, Ph.D., says that a move to the Summit League will save significant costs.

Martin said the move, coupled with facility improvements at Swinney Center where basketball and volleyball games are played, will benefit the campus and the Kansas City community.

“These changes are about competitive excellence, positioning our student-athletes and teams to win conference and NCAA post-season championships,” Martin said. “This also will help inspire our Roo Nation, elevating the fan experience, creating rivalries and partnerships that make games not only competitive but fun and exciting. This, coupled with fiscal savings, is a win-win.”

At its meeting Thursday in Columbia, the University of Missouri Board of Curators approved the move to the Summit League.

“Athletics is an important part of the college experience and we support the vision of UMKC to elevate its competitiveness, support its student-athletes and further engage the campus community while creating a sound fiscal foundation,” said Jon Sundvold, chair of the Board of Curators. “It’s an exciting time for the university.”

“We’re thrilled to have the UMKC Roos back in the Summit League,” said Summit League Commissioner Tom Douple. “We are looking forward to the 2020-21 season.”

Published: Jun 20, 2019