The Lone Star Conference has agreed to annually send a representative to the Kanza Bowl, a newly formed postseason football game to be played at Hummer Sports Park in Topeka , Kan. The decision was announced Monday morning at a press conference in the Kansas capitol city.
The Kanza (pronounced CANS-uh) Bowl, one of only four NCAA Division II bowl games, will be played the first Saturday in December each year, always featuring a match-up of teams from the LSC and Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA). Both the LSC and MIAA signed a one-year agreement with the bowl, with the option to renew the contract for up to two additional years.
“We’re grateful for Rick Benke at Hummer Sports Park and the other folks in Topeka for identifying the Lone Star Conference as a worthy participant in this bowl game, and we look forward to some great competition against the MIAA teams," said Stan Wagnon, LSC commissioner. “Having the chance to participate in a postseason bowl game is something our coaches have desired for some time, and I think it’s appropriate that we can do that in an agreement with the MIAA. Both conferences play football at the highest level in Division II, and both of us seem to always have a team or two that feels like they should have been included in the playoffs. This will give those teams an opportunity that wouldn’t otherwise exist.”
Participating teams will be expected to arrive Thursday before the game and stay at Topeka ’s Ramada Hotel & Convention Center until Saturday. The bowl committee will provide various meals and entertainment for the participants, including a Friday night banquet. Also, both teams will participate in a community engagement activity while in Topeka .
“The folks in Topeka have assured us they will provide a top-notch experience for our student-athletes and coaches, and we’re anxious for December to start this new tradition that will embellish the budding rivalry between teams in our league and the MIAA," added Wagnon.
The bowl selection committee will be responsible for selecting the bowl participants, and they will do so after the NCAA Division II playoff teams have been determined. The committee has established several criteria to simplify its selection process, including a commitment to selecting the team from each conference with the best conference record.
Additionally, the committee has agreed to use head-to-head results as a tiebreaker if two teams under consideration have the same conference record. If no head-to-head competition exists, or if more than two teams have identical conference records, the bowl selection committee will use its own judgment to make the selection.
Since the MIAA also sends a representative to the Missouri-based Mineral Water Bowl, the MIAA’s best non-playoff team will have the choice of playing in the Kanza Bowl or the Mineral Water Bowl, while the next best MIAA non-playoff team will have a choice of playing in the remaining bowl.
The LSC has no other bowl commitments.
“If these next few years are anything like the past few, I think it’s easy to see the LSC will be sending a strong representative to this game,” said Wagnon. “Last year, the bowl committee would have chosen between four teams who tied for third place in our conference. Among those, Central Oklahoma had won seven games in a row, and Texas A&M-Kingsville was ranked seventh in the final regional poll.”
In 2007, Tarleton State would have been the LSC representative after a 9-2 season in which both losses came to the LSC’s playoff representatives. It also would have been Tarleton in 2006. The Texans were 6-4 that year but went 5-1 to finish as co-champs of the South Division, which featured three playoff teams.
Hummer Sports Park seats 6,000 fans – 4,000 on the home side and 2,000 in the visitor bleachers – and has an AstroPlay synthetic grass field. The conferences agreed that the selected MIAA team will always be the home team, while the selected LSC team will be the visitor.
For the bowl game in 2009, officials from the MIAA will govern the contest, utilizing a seven-man crew. The officiating crew will alternate between the two leagues, with officials from the LSC set to work in 2010.
The LSC has eight members in Texas , six in Oklahoma and one in New Mexico , with its conference headquarters in Richardson , Texas . The Kansas City-based MIAA has 11 members in Kansas , Missouri and Nebraska .