MIAA league makes changes under second-year commissioner
For Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Commissioner Jim Johnson, there is a lot of transitioning within the league.
Not only is there the addition of Nebraska-Omaha to the league beginning this season, the league is making a change highlighted by a change in the logo.
That logo was first used during the MIAA men’s and women’s basketball tournament but Johnson, who has been commissioner since July 1, 2007, said that all of the league changes are anchored by the logo.
“Our brand is as simple as the logo we put on stationary, the Web site and so forth,” Johnson said. “What we really want to do is when you see that mark what you see is a group of schools, with Kansas City has a hub that is all within 127 miles of Kansas City and we have 80,000 alums in the metro area.”
It is the partnership with the Kansas City metro area that Johnson said will create a "trickle-down" effect to member institutions.
“If we can get the city behind us what we can do from the standpoint of quality championship events and community service opportunities for our student-athletes in town ... we can be second-to-none in Division II athletics,” Johnson said. “Nobody has the setup that we have with Kansas City has the hub and the quality of our championship events.
“If we are successful in doing that here, that is going to get a Pittsburg State alum excited about giving to Pittsburg State or coming to Pittsburg on a Saturday when they would maybe not do that right now,” Johnson said. “Our primary goal is the benefit the schools locally and regionally with great events and great opportunities for our student-athletes.”
On top of the logo and the renewed partnership with Kansas City, the league is also rebranding its Web site.
“As we all know, printed materials are great and things we can do over the phone is good stuff,” Johnson said. “But when somebody needs to know something about the MIAA, where are they going to go?
“The Web site has to be a black hole of information,” Johnson said. “The MIAA Web site needs to grab you and it needs to have that ‘wow’ factor.”
It was that "wow" factor that Johnson said was missing from the previous Web site.
“I didn’t really think that was there before,” Johnson said. “That one was designed before and the change in the color scheme and the change in the logo presented an opportunity to rearrange that and add information to it and I think everyone will be excited when we re-launch it in a couple of weeks.”
He said that the league is focusing its attentions on those changes because, he said, those will lead to bigger and better things.
“Really, I think our location, our look and our outreach and bringing some community partnerships are off and running right now,” Johnson said. “We took a great foundation and we have kind of built the walls right now and I think that we are going to continue to do that.”
One of those bigger and better ventures is the creation of a series of championships crowned in Kansas City during the spring.
“The next major initiative as we head into the 08-09 year is the creation of our championship festival,” Johnson said. “We will crown eight conference champions over an 11-week period in Kansas City and we are real excited about putting that together.
“It is a great opportunity for our student-athletes in basketball, golf, tennis, softball and baseball and the effectiveness it has will trickle down to all of our student-athletes.”
He said those changes will take some time in finding its effects on league towns like Pittsburg.
“It gets back to that goal of what can we do to benefit Pittsburg State in Pittsburg, Kan.” Johnson said. “It doesn’t happen overnight, but hopefully we are heading in the right direction.”
Couple those with the addition of Nebraska-Omaha and Johnson said that the league will go nowhere but up.
“What you are going to learn about UNO is not just their athletic success but their people and how they run their program,” Johnson said. “A lot of that is because of where they come from and if you look at that over the last five years, there are probably not two conferences that are more alike than the MIAA and the NCC.
“I am sure that there are some coaches that may disagree but, from a commissioner’s standpoint, if you are going to go out and add a school, obviously there is not a better choice or one that is better for this league.”
Matthew Clark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 620-231-2600, Ext. 140