By Josh Brown
Miami Valley Today
URBANA — “This hurts.”
That simple Tuesday tweet from Milton-Union High School graduate Kristen Dickison, along with a broken heart emoji, spoke for many athletes originally from Miami County’s schools.
Urbana University, an NCAA Division II school playing in the Mountain East Conference since 2013, announced Tuesday that it was closing its doors permanently after the spring semester, citing declining enrollment and challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving a number of student-athletes from Miami County looking for a new home.
“The global coronavirus pandemic has added a level of stress and uncertainty to Urbana’s prospects that make it impossible to sustain,” the university said in a press release on Tuesday. “Academic programming will be moved to Franklin University, while athletic offering and on-site administrative roles will cease at the Urbana branch campus.”
Back on March 12, Urbana — which has been a branch campus of Franklin University since 2014 — joined other colleges across the state in canceling spring sports and closing its residence halls, moving to remote classes online. The football team announced its schedule for the 2020 fall season on April 9, but less than two weeks later the university announced its permanent closure.
Many of Urbana’s student-athletes took to Twitter Tuesday afternoon, announcing that they were hoping to transfer and find new teams to play for.
“Campus officials will be working with officials at the NCAA and MEC organizations to obtain guidance on the most effective ways to transition those student athletes who wish to transfer to other institutions to continue their athletic endeavors,” the university’s website read as of Thursday, with a note saying more information would be added “in the coming days.”
According to team rosters on the Urbana University website, a total of 10 graduates of Miami County high schools were playing for the Blue Knights at the time of the university’s closure.
Dickison was a two-sport athlete at Urbana, playing women’s soccer and basketball. She had a solid freshman year in soccer, scoring five goals and two assists for a total of 12 points, including one game-winning goal. In basketball, she made six appearances, averaging 1.5 points per game. She was also joined on the women’s soccer team by Tippecanoe graduate Hannah Chaplin, also a freshman, as well as junior and Piqua graduate Madison Curtner.
Piqua graduate Cassidy Kraft was a senior on the women’s golf team, which is classified as a spring sport at the college level, with most of the season being played in the fall. The team had three two-day tournaments in April canceled due to the pandemic.
In men’s sports, Tippecanoe graduate Caiden Smith played for the Blue Knight’s men’s basketball team. The sophomore averaged 10.2 minutes per game in 21 appearances in the 2019-20 season, averaging 2.3 points, 1.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game.
Three Troy Christian graduates — sophomore Jared Ford and freshmen Nick Baker and Jake Edwards — competed for Urbana’s wrestling team. Another Troy Christian graduate, sophomore Jacob Voisinet, was a two-sport athlete for the Blue Knights for both the men’s swimming and cross country teams.
Milton-Union graduate Josh Daum was also a sophomore on the men’s soccer team.
The Blue Knight football team was also coached by Tyler Haines, a Piqua High School graduate. The Knights went 7-4 in 2019, matching its total for most wins in a season during their time in the MEC. In five years at Urbana, Haines was 15-29 overall and 11-29 in the MEC, and his next win would have put him at No. 2 in Urbana’s 35-year program history in career wins as a coach.
Troy’s Tucker Raskay and Piqua’s Riley Hill both had signed to play football for Urbana this coming fall.
Contact Josh Brown at [email protected].
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