Denver Men’s Soccer Faces Unclear Summit League Future

DU Men’s Soccer began conference play last weekend with a 2-0 victory over St. Thomas in Minneapolis. However, the league membership is down to ORU, Western Illinois, UMKC, St. Thomas, and Omaha. Western Illinois recently joined Eastern Illinois and Lindenwood, former Summit League conference members, in joining the Ohio Valley Conference in all sports except men’s soccer and football. The Leathernecks women’s soccer team has already exited to the Ohio Valley. Western Illinois men’s soccer will exit the Summit League next season.

Western Illinois University recently announced that its men’s soccer program will remain in the Summit League for the fall of 2023, rather than move to the Ohio Valley Conference on July 1. With conference schedules set and nonconference slates nearly finalized, keeping the men’s program in the Summit League one final season made sense for all parties.

“As with football remaining in the Missouri Valley Football Conference for the 2023 season before moving to the Ohio Valley Conference, men’s soccer will follow a similar transition,” Paul A. Bubb, Director of Athletics for the Leathernecks said. “This transition was made for the benefit of all parties, allowing previously established schedules to remain in place for the fall of 2023, providing the least amount of disruption to schedules previously set by both conferences.”

When the Leathernecks exit the Summit next season, the Summit League will be down to only five men’s teams, one less than needed for an NCAA qualifier. The Summit League will likely get temporary relief from the NCAA but ultimately, the Summit League needs to either add an associate member, add a full-fledged soccer member, or have current members seek other conference affiliation or associate membership at another conference.

There are no obvious affiliate members available. The Ohio Valley, the Missouri Valley, and the WAC have a full slate of members so Pioneer fans will have to wait to learn the future of soccer in the Summit League.

Denver men’s soccer’s (5-2-3, 1-0) Summit League home opener – a rematch of the thrilling 2021 Summit League championship between the Pioneers and Oral Roberts – is set for Saturday night at Pioneer Field at 7:00 pm MT.

Photo: Courtesy of DU Athletics

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