Opinion: Big things on the Horizon for RMU?

Austin Bechtold

Editor’s Note: All opinions on Colonial Sports Network are the writer’s own

For the first time since the Robert Morris men’s basketball team won the NEC Tournament in March, there is some encouraging sports news about the Colonials.

Robert Morris has surfaced as a possible candidate to join the Horizon League, according to CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein.

The Horizon League consists of Cleveland State, Wright State, and Youngstown State, as well as Detroit Mercy, Green Bay, IUPUI, Milwaukee, Northern Kentucky, Oakland, and UIC.

This would be a significant move for the Colonials to boost their athletic competition in a huge way.

The league currently consists of 10 schools, with Purdue University at Fort Wayne joining the conference this upcoming athletic and academic year. Purdue Fort Wayne will become the 11th school in the Horizon League on July 1, leaving a potential opening for a 12th athletic department to balance out the conference.

The Horizon League is not the only conference that is allegedly interested in adding RMU.

According to Alan Saunders, Pittsburgh Sports Now has also learned about the potential for Robert Morris to join the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). The MAAC also includes 11 schools, with Rider, Monmouth, Niagara, and Quinnipiac as noticeable member universities.

A move to either the Horizon or MAAC would be a great opportunity for the Colonials to join a well respected Division I conference with a higher competition level for their athletic programs.

This would provide a new challenge and probably take a few years to adapt to, being unfamiliar with 11 other schools for the first time since Robert Morris became a DI program in 1981.

One element that wouldn’t change if RMU decides to move on would be the strong coaching that each program contains. Dale Starr (volleyball), Bernard Clark (football), Andy Toole (men’s basketball), and Charlie Buscaglia (women’s basketball) represent just some of the skillful coaches that can help make the transition to a higher conference smoother, and create a new winning culture earlier than expected.

Programs like volleyball and men’s and women’s basketball could benefit from added competition, providing a tougher test for the three Robert Morris programs that won their regular-season Northeast Conference title.

On the other hand, the Colonials should have no problem staying in the NEC for the foreseeable future. With basketball and volleyball dominating the rest of the conference and football significantly improved from a year ago, Robert Morris should be in store for a return to the tournament or a newfound playoff spot for all four of these teams.

The Horizon League does not play host to either football or lacrosse. If RMU decides to join, they will have to find a new home for these respective programs. It does, however, contain current RMU sports like cross country, golf, soccer, and track & field.

These rumors are pure speculation at this point, but will be something to keep an eye on as the summer rolls on and teams file back onto campus fields and gymnasiums.

A timetable is not yet known for any potential moves.