In the wake of the final C-USA tournament with this combination of teams, we know one thing: The American will have the reigning C-USA champion in both football and basketball. UTSA has gone all-in on football, the cultural and revenue giant but that has some consequences. The basketball program is the weakest in the league, and has been living in the league’s basement for most of the last decade. The gym is the worst in the conference, with little of the charm of even Rice’s place. Perhaps, with a good squad and a raucous crowd, the cramped facilities could be charming. As is, the Convocation Center simply serves as a place to endure.
Lisa Campos, UTSA’s athletic director, announced that coach Henson will continue, but “after a review” will “make the necessary changes”. The release reads like he was put on a performance improvement plan. The reality is that UTSA doesn’t have much cash or a donor base motivated enough to make the necessary changes. Steve Henson is in a rough spot, having to compete in a football-crazy town with little to no support. The home gym is weak, the facilities are as well, and the fan base thinks of hoops as a nice-to-have rather than a passion.
The association with a better league and more money will help things, but the decisions will be fueled by the boosters. Do they care enough?
Meanwhile in Bowling Green, Rick Stansbury is out as head coach. He had one of, if not the best rosters and teams through most of his tenure. His .610 winning percentage was good, and he went to three straight league title games but could not overcome Marshall, ODU, and North Texas even with the better squad. In the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, WKU dropped the regular season title clincher to North Texas in Denton. Fans were frustrated and unhappy. In contrast to the UTSA situation, WKU cares very strongly about their basketball. A move was made — reported as mutual — and Stansbury will move on. WKU will remain in C-USA with a still-dangerous MTSU, and a falling Louisiana Tech. UTEP will be interesting if they can get some offense. Next season will have 9 CUSA teams competing and FAU, UAB, and North Texas in the American. There is a real chance that Western will battling Middle for league supremacy in a one-bid league. Removing an underperforming coach (technically he resigned, and had health concerns this season) to spark a change in a crucial time period is the type of thing a group does when it cares.