Could Loyola-Chicago making the Final 4 inspire Loyola of New Or - FOX 8, WVUE, fox8live.com, weather, app, news, saints

Could Loyola-Chicago making the Final 4 inspire Loyola of New Orleans to make changes in athletics?

Loyola currently participates in NAIA sports. Loyola currently participates in NAIA sports.
(WVUE) -

Loyola-Chicago's run to the Final Four as an 11-seed, was no doubt one of the top stories of March Madness. Loyola-Chicago is a Division 1 program with an enrollment of over 16,000 students. The Ramblers are a Jesuit school, just like Loyola in New Orleans. They both sport the same school colors. But there's one huge difference, Loyola-New Orleans plays in the NAIA, three levels down from Division 1. So is there a chance the Wolf Pack could make the move to D-1 in the coming years?

"Extremely happy for that group, tremendous people. As far as us going Division 1, all I can say is we're just trying to get a little better every day. Right, just trying to get a little better every day. We've seen tremendous growth here, and a lot of success," said Loyola Athletic Director Brett Simpson.

Well if not D-1, how about Division 2, a step closer to big-time athletics and bigger paydays in a conference.

"We're always surveying the landscape of college athletics. From all levels there's a lot of movement. Conferences, divisions, and things of that nature. What I can say is we're always evaluating our options," said Simpson.

To show you how much the Wolf Pack program has evolved over the years. When Simpson played baseball here in the early 90's, they offered zero scholarships. Now, that has all changed.

"We have roughly a 150 student-athletes on athletic scholarships. They're not all full-rides. We break up the vast majority of our athletic scholarships between all of our 215 student-athletes we have in the department today," said Simpson.

The Wolf Pack offer 18 sports, and more could be on the way. This a program on the rise, and their facilities paint that picture.

"When you and I talked the other day you said it best, we played in a rec center," said a smiling Simpson. "It doesn't look like a rec center anymore. When I went to school here not too long ago the colors in the gym were blue, orange, and green. So we've made an effort to make it an arena, a college gym. You'll see now it's all maroon and gold."

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