Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin created a task force that has recently ordered Redlands Community College and several other two-year institutions to develop a plan for merging their boards with a four-year school.
Those four-year colleges include regional universities such as Southwestern Oklahoma State University and the University of Central Oklahoma and larger institutions such as the University of Oklahoma or Oklahoma State University.
Redlands recently has released a statement indicating it would be working with “regional” partners. That indicates the school is working toward a merger with Southwestern or Central Oklahoma.
There is nothing wrong with those universities. They both have great tradition in academics, arts and athletics, but why wouldn’t RCC pursue a possible merger with Oklahoma or Oklahoma State?
Recently, El Reno Mayor Matt White argued that the process of merging Redlands with a larger college has to be done in public view. White said that the issue does not only include El Reno but all of Canadian County and even further.
White added that El Reno, Yukon and Mustang all send students to Redlands.
The El Reno mayor pointed to the “success of OSU-OKC” as a model Redlands should consider adopting.
“Why couldn’t OU do that same thing for El Reno, Yukon and Mustang and further,” White said.
I agree with White and when you take a look at what the possibilities would be with OU (or OSU) involved, it makes perfect sense.
For many higher-education institutions, athletics is a beating heart for the college.
There are hundreds of thousands of high school athletes across the country that dream of playing sports at the collegiate level.
Some of those athletes are good enough to play major college athletics at schools like OU or OSU and some aren’t quite to that level and play at smaller schools like Southwestern or UCO.
What about those students who have the potential to grow into major college athletes? That’s where a potential merger with OU or OSU could be huge for Redlands athletics.
Right now, RCC has baseball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, women’s golf and women’s soccer.
That is pretty close to normal for the number of athletics for a two-year college. The cost of running and maintaining a college athletics program can be overwhelming, especially for a community college.
Throw in the resources that Oklahoma or Oklahoma State could provide and all that goes away.
First, look at how it could improve the current athletic programs Redlands employs. With OU or OSU involved, facilities would automatically improve. Recruiting would soar with the Sooner or Cowboy brands attached to the offer.
Also, Oklahoma or Oklahoma State could turn RCC into a feeder school for their athletic programs.
Consider how many high school baseball players there are across the nation who are good enough talent-wise to play at OU or OSU but they need a year or two of physical and/or mental growth before they are ready for major college sports.
Redlands would be a perfect spot for OU or OSU to send their recruits to for a couple of years. Automatically, the level of play would improve for that athletic program.
The same goes for basketball, golf and soccer.
Second, think about the possibility of adding more athletics to Redlands. If a merger with Oklahoma or Oklahoma State would occur, could we possibly see a softball, football or even more athletic programs come to RCC?
At Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, the football and softball programs are some of the best athletic programs in the nation, so I would think starting up those programs at their potential feeder school would be a good move for either university.
Southwestern or Central Oklahoma would have the capability using Redlands as a feeder school as well but they don’t have near the resources Oklahoma or Oklahoma State carry.
Whatever decision Redlands officials make in regards to the potential merger, I hope they do it with transparency and I hope they consider the long-term ramifications it will have on the area and the future RCC students.
For me, a potential merger with Oklahoma or Oklahoma State would be the best opportunity for many reasons, including athletics.