University of Charleston President Dr. Ed Welch said there are pros and cons for his school and the other West Virginia Conference member in the Kanawha Valley - West Virginia State - in joining a new conference.
The nine schools that play football in the West Virginia Conference, including UC and State, announced Monday they are exploring options in forming a new league.
The real payoff will be on the football side, where scheduling would be made easier with a conference whose members all play the sport. In addition, the WVC doesn't get an automatic bid for its conference champion into the NCAA Division II playoffs.
Welch and the Golden Eagles felt that sting a couple of seasons ago when UC compiled a 9-2 record but was left out of the football playoffs. The Golden Eagles added Tusculum (Tenn.) to the schedule, which the year before was nationally ranked, but only won a couple of games the season it played UC.
"It helps you with strength of schedule,'' said the UC president. "We thought we had scheduled a team that would help us and in fact it hurt us. I think it would make it easier to schedule because you just schedule each other.
"You wouldn't have to find another independent school someplace that has a vacant date on the weekend that matches your vacant date. You have to make sure whatever evolves out of these conversations you want to have an automatic qualifying berth for your championship teams.''
Welch said for other sports the benefits are unclear.
"For a sport like basketball, how many nonconference contests would we schedule and would we then play Alderson-Broaddus, which has been part of the conference," he pondered, "or would the schools that used to be in the same conference say no, we don't want to play these schools that left us?
"The breaking up of friendships and rivalries and partnerships that go back a long ways, that's tough. It's hard to see that happen.''
Welch said for UC and State, though, the marketing possibilities for their programs to other regions would be endless.
"I think the opportunity to play in other states and venues is a plus because you share the word about West Virginia State and UC to people in a different locale,'' he said. "That could be helpful in recruiting, and if it's an area where we're already recruiting then it's a plus that the parents would get to see their children play.''