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Western tracks down the MIAA

Griffons to add track and field team in 2017

Missouri Western announced that it will start participating in track and field starting in the 2017. The school will also will participate in cross country. Athletic Director Kirk McGuffin said that this is something he has wanted since becoming the AD.

“We always knew we wanted to add sports, but we knew we had to take care of some things first,” McGuffin said.

The Missouri Western athletics department has been busy in recent years—adding the practice facility, building the Spring Sports Complex and the most recent renovations to Spratt Stadium. These are things that they knew they must take care of before they would be able to add any new sports.

“We wanted to be sure that all 10 of our sports were on good footing first,” McGuffin said.

Western’s enrollment has gone down steadily the last few years and the belief is that adding new sports will also increase enrollment. 

“We could add bowling or sand volleyball, but you’re looking at 8, 9 kids” McGuffin said. “We want to add 50 or 60 kids.”

By adding new sports, we will also be adding new costs to the athletic department. The school has spent over $30 million over the last few years and that number will drastically increase with these new sports. The addition of a cross country team will not have much start-up cost, but the track team will eventually need their own indoor facility.

“We need to host meets at some point and our plan is to look north over by the pond,” McGuffin said.

The question then becomes, where will the school get the money for another facility?

“In time we plan to build the facilities with private dollars,” McGuffin said.

The addition of more athletes means there will be more scholarships to give out each year. The school plans to give out 18 scholarships, divided up between the three sports.

“That puts us right in the middle of the MIAA as far how many scholarships are given out,” McGuffin said.

Colleges will use the track and field team as a way to save scholarships for their other sports. If the coaches have the right relationship, they may give a track scholarship out and then the football team may have that athlete on their team without using a scholarship on him.

“The coaches that we have interviewed—that’s high on their list,” McGuffin said. “But you have to have the right relationship between coaches.”

If things go as planned for McGuffin, they will have a new coach hired by Sept. 1. The coach will then start recruiting immediately for the 2017 season. The school will then start looking for the private donations needed, and there is the possibility they will look into using student fees.

“We need more rec space, we need more gym space, field space as we grow,” McGuffin said. “We’re growing and we hope that this will help grow even more.”

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