As UVSC undergoes its proverbial name change and becomes UVU, students and fans alike are curious to find out what this will mean on the field, court, pitch and track. While the uniforms will be fresh out of the box with “UVU” emblazoned across each chest, and with the new logos adorning the athlete’s warm-ups, the question remains if the product on display will be just as fresh?
First as a junior college and then in its first years of Division I infancy, Utah Valley has left its mark in athletics. Numerous championships at the JUCO level as well as landmark wins over nationally ranked teams have set expectations high as UVSC prepares for its next step in collegiate evolution: becoming a university.
“In my heart I believe university brings with it a sense of established respect,” said UVU softball coach Todd Fairbourne. “It’s almost an automatic respect and it sounds better too.”
While the impact on the field or court may take a few years to display itself, there are advantages to becoming a university. As far as recruiting is concerned, being UVU as opposed to UVSC will raise awareness to athletes who aren’t familiar with, or from, the state of Utah. And those who see UVSC as BYU’s little sister school may experience a sleight paradigm sift.
There is also the scheduling aspect that may be improved as Utah Valley continues to grow and improve exponentially in the eyes of others. Playing and beating another university can be more impressive than beating a college. However, schools such as Arizona State, Oklahoma State, University of Washington, BYU, Utah and Oregon State have found out the hard way that UVU is no cupcake. While becoming a university may help scheduling, Utah Valley may have scared some schools off for fear of being handled by a smaller, lesser-known school.
While university status will help the athletic department in many ways, the next big step will be getting into a conference. Automatically having a full schedule and opportunities to compete in post season tournaments are some of the advantages of being in a conference. Whether UVU will be accepted into a conference is yet to be seen, but sooner or later, it will be necessary for UVU to take the next step in building an even more respected athletic program.
The public recognizes most universities because of the success of their respective athletic programs: mention the University of Oklahoma and most people think of a great football program, while Duke and North Carolina are primarily known as great basketball schools. Whether it’s right or wrong the publicity and respect UVU will gain will undoubtedly be reflected by the success of the athletic department.
“I’m excited to see what the future holds,” said UVU basketball coach Dick Hunsaker, “but our philosophy and our approach will remain the same. We’ll always be the best we can possibly be.”