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Ride and Learn: Midwestern State University
 
By Imelda March
Date: 5/3/2011
Ride and Learn: Midwestern State University
 
We continue to explore the world of U.S. based collegiate cycling programs and have ventured deep into “Texas Country” with a visit to the State of Texas with a stop at Midwestern State University (MSU).

Midwestern State University (MSU) is located in Wichita Falls, Texas. Aside from their academics MSU is well know among the cycling community for organizing the Hotter'N Hell Hundred fundraiser.

MSU competes in the South Central Collegiate Cycling Conference (SCCCC), a recognized conference within the USA Cycling Collegiate organization. The South Central Collegiate Cycling Conference (SCCCC) is one of 11 collegiate conferences around the U.S.

The MSU Cycling Team is the leader in points among the SCCCC and will enter this weekend’s (May 6 to 8) 2011 USA Cycling Collegiate Road Nationals as a team to watch.

Coach Julie Carter provides an inside perspective on the MSU cycling program. Please note that she is the only female coach that elected to participate in the Ride and Learn series.

Josh Carter finishes ahead of the peloton in the criterium at the 2010 USA Cycling National Collegiate Criterium Championship in Wisconsin. (Image MSU Cycling)

MSU QUICK FACTS

Established: 1922
Colors: Maroon & Gold
Mascot: Mustangs

Students:
• Enrollment: 6,343
• Undergraduate: 5,608
• Graduate: 735

• Women: 3,741 (58%)
• Men: 2,685 (42%)

Academics:
• Undergraduate programs: 54
• Graduate programs: 28

• Full-time faculty: 224
• Student/Faculty ratio: 19:1

Expenses:
Tuition & Fees (Texas resident/15 hrs.) - $3,113
Course Fees (estimated)- $200
Books (estimated)- $570
Room & Board - $2,740
Vehicle Registration - $32
Total per semester (estimated) - $6,655
Note: 75% of students receive financial aid.


Jennifer Purcell lift her arms in triumph after winning the 2010 USA Cycling National Collegiate Criterium Championship in Wisconsin. (Image provided by MSU)

DP: Who is an ideal candidate for your academic/cycling program? Do you prefer athletes who are pure cyclists or are students from other sports welcomed?

Julie Carter: Any prospective student that seeks an accredited degree at the Bachelor’s or Master’s level and is at any level of road and/or track racing is an ideal candidate for the MSU Cycling Team. Midwestern State University (MSU) currently offers support to get to the races (entry fees, travel in university vehicles, lodging, and other support) for new riders that have never participated in cycling as a sport all the way up to those who are currently UCI licensed trade team riders.

MSU offers a Varsity Cycling course option to help fulfill Kinesiology credits that fits nicely with our cycling team's program. In addition to the support offered to get riders to the races, we also offer compensated coaching by the current Director of Cycling, Julie Carter. Julie is currently a USA Cycling Level 2 coach with years of experience in coaching and racing. She is the personal coach for the two current USA Cycling Collegiate Division 1 National Criterium Champions (for the men and the women). The coaching saves riders approximately $2,000 each year on coaching fees. MSU is a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC), and has been rated the #1 Best Value by Consumer Digest Magazine, so prospective students that want a strong liberal arts degree with minimal costs will be a good fit.

DP: Does MSU offer collegiate cycling scholarships?

JC: MSU does offer cycling scholarships, courtesy of Hotter'N Hell Hundred (www.hh100.org) and other local donors.

DP: If so, what are the cycling scholarship distribution levels? What is the average scholarship value?

The Cycling Scholarship does not have a floor or ceiling, per se, but are rather disbursed based on an annual budget. A cycling board of seven members reviews all scholarship applications and decides how to award the money in the budget. There is not a set amount or level that these scholarships are predetermined to be. The largest cycling scholarship awarded to date is $1,800.00 annually. Additionally, Midwestern State University has a competitive waiver program. This allows out-of-state and International students who receive $1,000 or more in annual scholarships to be awarded Texas resident tuition rates; this has been a popular program for our out-of-state and International students, saving non-residents several thousand dollars. This is something that is often met with the cycling scholarship. That being said, MSU also offers very competitive out-of-state tuition which is currently local in-state tuition plus $30 per semester credit hour.

DP: Are the athletes provided with or are they expected to contribute to the costs of purchasing their equipment (i.e. bikes, tires, rollers, helmets, uniforms, etc)?

DP: Rouse Bicycles, Vittoria tires, Hotter'N Hell Hundred, and other sponsors have partnered with Midwestern State University. All category A riders receive free clothing and all other riders receive a free jersey, plus discounts on other clothing purchases. A few riders receive the use of bicycles from Rouse; all riders are given a large discount on the Rouse custom painted Midwestern State University frameset.

Use of sponsor equipment is not required if it is not provided by the team. Riders should check their scholarship offer for details on what equipment and clothing will be provided for their use. All team members also receive product discounts from our sponsor bike shop, Texoma Cycling Center.

DP: A B.A./B.S. takes about 4 years to complete, however, do all your athletes finish their degrees on time? Or is the average more like 5 years as they enjoy their environments and student life?

JC: Most of our cyclists finish their degrees on time, while only a few require five years or more. As an example, we have a newly accredited and very rigorous Mechanical Engineering degree program that could take a little bit of extra time for a serious cyclist to complete. To stay on track for the 4-year degree, it requires that six of the eight semesters are over 15 credit hours of course instruction. This would be one degree that cyclists may need to evaluate with their advisors on the best plan to complete. MSU accepts a number of credits by examination hours that can help with graduating on time; you can view our current CBE policy

DP: Overall, what is your cycling program graduation rate?

JC: Since the inception of the cycling program in 1989 to the present we have had about a 95-97% graduation rate; we didn't keep close track in the very early years, but this is the best figure we could recollect.

DP: Do you actively recruit? If so, is there a part of the country where do you focus more of your recruitment efforts?

JC: We, absolutely, aim to recruit riders from all over of the world! We currently have international students from New Zealand, Germany, and Mexico; in the past they have come from Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Israel, Japan, Norway, Puerto Rico, South Africa, and other countries. We have also had cycling team members from all over the United States.

DP: What differentiates the MSU cycling program from the others?

JC: I think every collegiate cycling program is unique and has its own strengths; this is the beauty of affiliation with USA Cycling instead of NCAA. Every program is able to create their own mold that is distinguishable from the others. Our team’s focus is on the road and track; this is one of the major differences between our program and some of the other USA Cycling Collegiate “Varsity” programs that have a more broad focus. We target the road and track season because it suits the interests of the local cycling community, allows students to focus on their studies more diligently (giving them an “off” part of the season), and allows us to specialize more specifically in the areas in which we do strive to compete. Because of this, MSU students have claimed 25 National Championship Jerseys on the road and track since its first in 1994.

Midwestern is also one of very few Varsity programs that are a public university and not a private school.

We also offer reasonable winter weather, training trips to Mt. Scott in the Spring (Mt. Scott is a one hour drive from MSU), compensated coaching by a USA Cycling Level 2 Coach, and even a cycling dorm. The cycling dorm is an off-campus dorm for cyclists. The maximum occupancy of the dorm is six residents, and the per-semester cost of living there is roughly $750 or less, plus food and high speed Internet (the rent covers the water, garbage, and energy bills). For cyclists to take advantage of this opportunity, they must meet certain academic requirements.

There are group rides galore in Wichita Falls, Texas. During daylight saving time, one can choose from approximately fifteen different group ride options each week! We also have a rural, low traffic setting within a 10 minute ride from campus.

Last, but definitely not least, we have the support and backing of Hotter'N Hell Hundred: the largest point-to-point century ride in the world. The event brings about 15,000 cyclists and a consumer show full of vendors to Wichita Falls each year for our Friday night Criterium and NORBA race, Saturday Road Race and touring ride, and our Sunday Criteriums. Hotter'N Hell Hundred has a $6.2 million economic impact on our community and donates to many worthy organizations such as the Red Cross, United Way, volunteer fire stations (and the MSU Cycling Team!), so there is a lot of support from the local community for cyclists. The motorists are typically friendly and more than willing to share the road with the cyclists that benefit our community so much.

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About the author: Imelda March lives in Chicago and is a member of Team Kenda. She is a frequent contributor to The Daily Peloton Cycling News team, reporting on women’s cycling issues and general peloton ramblings. Imelda is an experienced racer who also holds an MBA and is a marketing strategy expert.


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