BSA Nears Its End for Three Contrasting Programs
Published: Thursday, February 13, 2014
Updated: Thursday, February 13, 2014 09:02
The Bison Sports Arena has seen its better days. That lead would still be appropriate 10 years ago. But now, we can finally say the BSA is down to single digit events. The NDSU men’s basketball team has three remaining home games while the women have two. The wrestling team adds two home events.
While all three teams are vying to send the old BSA off in good fashion, they all are trying to achieve very different goals. The men are trying to remain a relevant commodity for a fan base that loves its football. The women are trying to become relevant again. And the wrestling team is trying to prove they belong as a Division I program.
While Saul Phillips and his Bison men aren’t afraid to poke fun at the BSA’s conditions, they were also quick to compliment the environment Saturday. That’s when more than 4,500 fans packed the building to watch NDSU face Fort Wayne for a first place spot. Always second in the NDSU athletics spotlight, this team wouldn’t mind playing more than three games at the BSA if that type of crowd shows up every game.
Maybe the most fun team to watch that Phillips has coached, the Bison have become the “you have to see this team play” that they have yearned to have said about them for many years. And with five seniors leading the team, the time is now to catch them in action.
In the 1990s, that was the case for the Bison women. The Bison were to Division II in the 90s as the football team is to the FCS in the 2010s. Now, the program is struggling to keep NDSU fans interested. With a 6-18 record and a coaching change likely to happen at the end of the season, this program has a calendar on the wall counting down the days to never playing in the BSA again.
This program has only won 10 home conference games in the last three years. The BSA hasn’t been kind to them and many fans have stopped bothering to show up. A struggling program and bleachers that would cause back problems for a first grader isn’t a good combination.
The women’s basketball program will begin a rebuilding process next season. A new facility should help that matter.
Meanwhile, flying underneath the radar is the NDSU wrestling program. The Bison are showing they belong with the Division I men. Head coach Roger Kish has been the engineer behind this program that keeps getting better each year. Last season it was Trent Sprenkle becoming NDSU’s first Division I All American. This year it is Steven Monk’s turn to represent the Bison on the national stage.
The Bison are currently ranked No. 20 in the “USA Today” Coaches Poll. Wrestling has always been a sport that doesn’t get the respect it deserves. But the future is bright for this program. One website ranked last year’s recruiting class the best in the nation.
When the new arena is finally finished, don’t be surprised if the wrestling team becomes that team that everyone needs to see in action.
The BSA is on its last leg. It’s been like that for a while. The three teams that use the arena are in different spots in terms of where the program is currently at and where it’s heading. The BSA will be no more in a couple months. In a couple years, when the new doors open, the intriguing question is where will these three programs be?