MHB’s success on the field has been successful for the university, city
Wednesday, 21 March 2012 by Matthew Girard
Participating in postseason play in the NCAA is the goal of any successful collegiate athletic program.
With postseason success, comes prestige and name recognition for universities.
Over the years, the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor has seen much success on the field in postseason play and off of it.
Since the emergence of the Crusaders' football team and basketball teams, UMHB has also become a destination for conference and national tournament postseason play.
During the past two weekends, UMHB hosted both the American Southwest Conference Basketball Tournament and the first two rounds of the NCAA Division III Basketball Tournament. UMHB also hosted three home games during the 2012 NCAA Division III Football Championships.
"There is a prestige that goes with hosting (a postseason event)." UMHB Vice President for Athletics Ben Shipp said. "The fact that our name is on the selection show, it's on national publications and even the smallest thing like having the scores printed in the L.A. Times, is huge for us.
"That is where we contribute to the success of the university. It's all about being ambassadors for the university and when we host, our name is out there for people to see."
This season, the UMHB football team hosted three home games against the University of Redlands (Calif.), McMurry University and Wesley University (Dela.), while the UMHB men's basketball team hosted the ASC tournament and the first and second round of the NCAA basketball tournament.
In the national tournaments, UMHB submits a bid to host the event based on several requirements from the NCAA.
"That's guaranteeing that we are going to have hotels, we're going to have food, we are going to have the facility that meets certain parameters, we have staffing that meets certain parameters, that we can provide the neutral atmosphere and also provide a crowd," Shipp said.
The NCAA is also hoping to see a return on its investment of providing travel accommodations for the teams selected to participate in a certain location.
"They also want to make sure that somebody is playing in the tournament to host tournament games," Shipp said. "Those are not announced until the week of the tournament, so we don't have a lot of prep time. We have a great staff that prepares all of the paperwork."
Although UMHB has hosted several postseason events, Shipp said it took awhile for the university to gain a reputation as a good host school.
"The longer that you are in this, the more you understand about doing those things that are necessary to host," Shipp said. "We couldn't get the reputation of being a good host because we didn't have any experience hosting. Now, we have hosted numerous football events and basketball a couple of times and it makes a big difference in how people look at you."
With the events come teams and fans from all over to the Central Texas area. A fact the City of Belton is pleased with.
"Whether there is a sporting event or a cultural event in town, those are attracting folks to the university and that's a very positive sign," Belton City Manager Sam Listi said. "We're encouraged when those folks are coming and staying in our hotels and motels, buying gas here and eating here. All that is very good for us in terms of sales tax and hotel/motel tax."
Listi also said the postseason events give people a reason to stop in Belton.
"It also gives the community exposure," Listi said. "You hear people say, 'Well I went through Belton, but I just kept right on going.' We want to pull them off the Interstate and get them into town, and let them see what they have been missing."
Although most incoming teams are staying at hotels in Temple, due to the number of available rooms, Shipp said Belton is most definitely reaping the benefits as well.
"We try to use the best of both worlds to provide the best event for the teams that are coming in," Shipp said. "The Belton Chamber always does anything we ask to try and help. It's mutually beneficial."
What makes UMHB an even more attractive destination for high school and college postseason events is the new on-campus stadium currently under construction.
"Because of the reputation that we have been able to build both as a quality football program and the ability to be a good host, with the new facility, it's going to be a showcase for the NCAA," Shipp said. "We believe we are going to become a destination for a lot of high school playoff games and that only helps the local area."
Listi said the city is excited about the new stadium and the potential of brining more people to Belton.
"We expect that those types of events will attract more folks to town and now those events are going to be a little more centrally located on the campus," Listi said.
According to Shipp, the addition of lights to the UMHB baseball and softball fields will also allow the university to host even more postseaston playoff action.
"There is a mix of population that will come to these games and some of those kids are going to be looking for somewhere to be going to school," Shipp said. "It is a win-win for the university, for the community and all of Central Texas."