Updated: Apr 8, 2022
The Northwest Missouri State Bearcats are once again Division II national champions in basketball after an impressive 67-58 win over Augusta. This is their 4th national championship in basketball, while also winning 6 national championships in football. All things considered, they are a true blue blood at the Division II level in both sports, and with this championship it brings up a widely asked question when it comes to successful lower Division I (In the case of football)/Division II teams, and that is the possibility of movement to Division I. Northwest Missouri State head basketball coach Ben McCollum was looked at with intent for a possible Missouri Basketball replacement, as well as being looked at by other programs looking for a new head coach, and they've had success against Division I opponents, giving teams like Duke even a run for their money. Not only that, but I think we can all agree they can hold their own against lower Division I opponents in football (If teams like UMass and UConn can be perennial dumpster fires and still be D1 I don't see why not right? I will refrain from naming the obvious and more local program they could beat.)
So what's the problem with them moving up? The bottom line is butts in seats, Title XIV, and money. It takes more than a successful program or two to move up in division at the NCAA level, it takes all-around, all gendered success and the athletic finances to foster a Division I program. Unfortunately (Fortunately in a way? Personally I like winning a lot of games) for the Bearcats, only a select few programs, I.E. football and men's basketball, have had plentiful national stage success in order to hold their own at the Division I level, and bring in enough money and butts in seats to give the NCAA a reason to move them up. With Title XIV existing as well, this would mean another women's program of the same relative athlete count must move up as well to keep compliance, of which NWMSU does not have a women's team that would be able to balance that out. Not only that, but other men's sports would have to bring in more as well and have more success that isn't there. Football and men's basketball cannot be the only reasons to move up, there has to be athletics-wide success. Hopefully my short summary of the wonders of how NCAA divisions and Title XIV help you, the reader, understand more about it all. If only it were that simple though, I'd personally love to see the Bearcats go toe to toe with Kansas football, and I say that as a Kansas fan knowing full well they have a chance (I said I wouldn't mention them, I lied I'm sorry, but hey Final Four right???)
In the end, all programs have to be good enough to move up, and that simply is not the case for the Bearcats. Enjoy the D2 dominance I say, winning championships is fun no matter what the level. Congrats to players, coaches, staff, students, and alumni of a great school, I hope somehow, some way the NCAA will be able to move your programs up in the near future, you deserve it. Cheers.
Burn Notice; 7/10 You all see how many brush burnings there are on the way up to Maryville? Those are actually the burnt remains of the competition the Bearcats face in football and basketball. Seriously, they're good.