The University of New Orleans' chancellor has made the call. Not to Beyonce for an upgrade, but rather to the Sun Belt Conference to disconnect the service. In a tough decision, UNO has decided to move from Division I athletics down to Division III.
I think it's going to be devastating to UNO.
I understand the hand that the school has been dealt. They have the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Falling enrollment. Poor facilities.
I assume that UNO asked the NCAA and the Sun Belt Conference for a waiver due to special circumstances. I assume that UNO appealed to its boosters, alumni and other groups for help. I assume all other avenues were thoroughly analyzed, and the move to Division III was the only option.
As a UGA fan, I follow UNO athletics because Billy Humphrey has been playing there. In this particular case, however, I'm not concerned with Humphrey. He has missed the last 5 games with knee problems, and the July move to Division I wouldn't affect him anyway. Either through injury or exhaustion of his eligibility, he's at the end of his collegiate career.
It's all the other players who will be stuck in limbo, who now have to decide what to do. It's the larger student body that will know that something important has been lost.
For all of its faults, athletics plays a big role in boosting the spirits. Just look at how the entire city of New Orleans has benefitted from the sudden success of the Saints.
My hope is that after a suitable time of recovery, UNO will be able to rejoin major college athletics.