UVU men’s soccer will debut in the fall of 2014 after UVU athletics officially joins the WAC on July 1, 2013. Why the year difference?
“We just have to do it right,” said UVU athletic director Mike Jacobsen. “The WAC, of course, would have liked us to start playing this next July, but we can’t do it right in that period of time. We’re going to hire a couple of coaches as quickly as we can. Signing date is Feb. 1, and I would foresee us having some soccer players on campus next year, but as far as our competition goes it will be fall 2014.”
Locker rooms and additional fields must be finished prior to 2014.
“We don’t have locker rooms for them,” Jacobsen said. “We don’t have coaches’ offices, and we have only one soccer field. Two programs [men’s and women’s] can’t play on a grass soccer field without tearing it up, so you got to have a practice field or a turf field. There’s a lot of things that go into it.”
Recruiting talented players is another aspect that UVU athletics must consider. Coaches will need to be hired prior to signing day. Jacobsen doesn’t think that any coaches will have to search far to find quality talent.
“One of the club coaches said there are 17 Division I players from the state of Utah playing outside of the state,” Jacobsen said. “We would like to think that those kids are going to want to stay home and play in front of their family and friends.”
Another reason the school won’t be fielding a team its inaugural year in the WAC is because the WAC has yet to recognize men’s soccer as a collegiate sport. The 2012 academic year will be the final year the WAC is known as a football conference. With the loss of football, the WAC has to pick up men’s soccer as the third team sport the conference endorses. Men’s soccer will fill the void left by football.
Currently, 22 conferences receive automatic bids to the Champion’s Cup, the collegiate men’s soccer tournament. The WAC is not one of the 22 teams who receive automatic bids to that tournament. What does that mean exactly for the WAC and UVU men’s soccer going forward?
“The soccer community will have to figure that out,” Jacobsen said. “There are national champions for collegiate soccer and we will be a part of that mix when the conference officially sponsors the sport.”
An exciting opportunity could be on the horizon the men’s soccer team. The top seeds in the Champion’s Cup get home field advantage. UVU could be the first school to ever host a NCAA men’s post-season game in the state of Utah. Of course, getting to the tournament needs to happen first.
Adding a new program isn’t easy. With many precautions to keep in mind, Jacobsen seems to understand it best.
“When you start something like that and start it off on the wrong foot, it’s really hard to ever get it righted again,” Jacobsen said.
We will see if the team gets off on the right foot in its 2014 debut.