AIB College of Business closes, effects on Simpson athletics unclear


by Brock Borgeson, sports editor

As AIB College of Business announced its closing and consumption by the University of Iowa, on Feb. 5, AIB’s athletics director, Al Dorenkamp announced that the spring semester of 2015 will be the final semester for AIB athletics.

The new school will be named the Regional Regents Center, opposed to the University of Iowa-Des Moines, as some had speculated.

It’s a decision that emanates from financial issues related to lack of enrollment and an overzealous plan in establishing athletics at the school.

For many AIB students, approximately 450, they won’t be able to graduate from AIB, while the student athletes will have to go through the recruiting process once again.

“I feel for the underclassmen,” senior AIB basketball player Brandon Eley said. “They’ll have to go through the recruiting process again. I think if they’re sophomores or younger they’ll try to transfer, but juniors are put in a hard spot.”

While Dorenkamp and AIB are aiming to make this transition possible, the student-athletes, many of whom are international and receiving scholarships, will be handcuffed, needing to re-file for their visas and immediately make college applications before recruiting classes at viable institutions are swallowed up.

“We have gotten many transfer requests in the last eight or nine days,” Dorenkamp said. “We’ve told them we’ll do a number of different things to help bring them to the next page in their life.”

With Simpson College just being 12 miles south of the outskirts of Des Moines, Simpson can expect to feel the impact of the closing.

Student-athlete transfers:

Numbers are not known and still growing, but ex-AIB student athletes have already reached out to Simpson.

“Some of their athletes have contacted us, looking at the chance of transferring” Simpson athletics director and head women’s basketball coach, Brian Niemuth said. “We are excited about giving them the opportunity. We’ve received permission to visit with their student athletes, and our coaches are pursuing that right now.”

Kedron Bardwell, assistant professor of political science at Simpson, who was intrigued by the developments at AIB after some students did a protest in Des Moines, sees Simpson as being a good option for these student-athletes, although the one’s looking for athletic scholarships may be out of the running for Simpson.

“If you just want a scholarship they’ll go to William Penn or another NAIA school,” Bardwell said. “But if you’re looking for a strong private education while staying in Des Moines, Simpson is a great option being less expensive than Drake and more academically rigorous than Grand View.”

With AIB being a NAIA school, athletic scholarships can be issued to athletes, a factor that may keep some AIB student athletes from transferring to Simpson.

Regardless, the chances are high that Simpson student-athletes may be competing for roster spots with ex-AIB Eagles this season as only 40 percent of students are expected to stay at AIB and 15 of 53 players on the baseball team have already quit, according to an article in the Des Moines Register.

“I’ve had a conversation with the women’s basketball coach at AIB and there is at least one player we are really interested in and another two we have our eye on. Niemuth said. “Next Monday a lot of colleges will be at AIB to talk to students and tell them what it takes to transfer.”

Simpson, who will end up playing AIB in six sporting events this season between men’s soccer, men’s golf, men’s and women’s basketball and baseball will have AIB on their schedule for the spring season although will lose the Eagles on their schedule going forward.

Athletics at schools like Simpson:

With the growing popularity of online classes, community colleges and the money crunch on students in attending schools, private colleges have growing competition in attracting students.

“It’s a challenge, and once you get more competition in the college arena, especially those that can do it cheaply, it makes it hard [to draw students],” Bardwell said.

Taking the public relations stance to lighten the blow that AIB took, chair of the Board of Trustees at AIB, Chris Costa spoke negatively about the state of private schools going into the future, remarking that it may even be time for these schools to throw in the towel.

“Small private colleges are facing tremendous competition in attracting students and there’s a national trend of closures,” Costa said.

Following this thinking, it would seem that more small private schools would have to cut athletics to deal with enrollment numbers, but this is an irrational concern according to those involved in sports at the small school level.

“I don’t foresee this happening at a similar school,” head AIB women’s basketball coach, Courtney Boyd said. “I think it was a decision that was made specifically about what our administration knew.”

In other words, AIB athletics got nixed because AIB overlooked many things financially. Not because this is expected to be a trend.

For many students that choose Division 3 and smaller NAIA schools, the opportunity to be in extracurricular activities is the reason they end up at Simpson opposed to Iowa State University or the University of Iowa.

“I think extracurricular activities like athletics, music, theatre is what bring students to private schools,” Niemuth said. “So I think those programs are priceless for schools like this.”

While the dust continues to settle at AIB, with new developments occurring each day, Simpson and it’s competitors in the IIAC will continue to battle, and sometimes fail to get the top-recruits.

But it doesn’t seem like the athletic teams will fail to exist anytime soon, and it seems Simpson will reap the benefits from AIB’s collapse.