The Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) and the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) announced jointly Thursday that the two NCAA Division II conferences have entered into a Strategic Conference Football Scheduling Alliance, which will enable MIAA members Lincoln University and Southwest Baptist University to join the GLVC in the sport of football only.
The proposed four-year agreement, which is slated to begin in 2014, will give both Lincoln and Southwest Baptist associate member status within the GLVC. Each school will remain full active members of the MIAA in all other sports and will continue those MIAA competitive schedules.
The Strategic Conference Football Scheduling Alliance provides scheduling stability and non-conference flexibility for both conferences moving forward, while also addressing two major scheduling goals for each league, including:
1. The desire of Lincoln and Southwest Baptist to obtain more flexibility with their non-conference schedule;
2. A scheduling model for the MIAA that would allow all conference schools to play one another; thus crowning a true league champion at year's end;
3. The GLVC's interest in growing and stabilizing its football membership;
4. A schedule for the GLVC that addresses challenges current membership has faced with non-conference scheduling.
"I am excited about this strategic alliance and believe it is a benefit to all MIAA institutions," MIAA Commissioner Bob Boerigter said. "Grant Teaff (Executive Director of the American Football Coaches Association) has encouraged Division II conferences to work together to help grow and sustain Division II football. GLVC Commissioner Jim Naumovich and I believe that this will help meet football scheduling challenges in both conferences."
Commissioner Naumovich agrees.
"Since beginning our sponsorship of football in 2012, our coaches and administrators have advocated for an increase in conference games, which then enables our schools to be both flexible and selective when it comes to non-conference scheduling," said Naumovich. "The Strategic Conference Football Scheduling Alliance not only meets our needs, but the addition of Lincoln and Southwest Baptist also gives us two programs located within the conference footprint that have been common opponents, and in some cases, rivals, to our current football schools. We are thrilled to embark on this unique venture with Commissioner Boerigter and the MIAA."
Lincoln is located in Jefferson City, Mo., while Southwest Baptist resides in Bolivar, Mo., just 115 miles away. Five of the current GLVC football schools – Missouri S&T (Rolla, Mo.), Truman State (Kirksville, Mo.), William Jewell (Liberty, Mo.), Quincy (Quincy, Ill.), and McKendree (Lebanon, Ill.) – are within a three-hour drive from Lincoln and a four-hour trip from Southwest Baptist.
The GLVC's two newest associate members are excited about the changes.
"Our alliance with the Great Lakes Valley Conference allows our football program to play similar size schools within the footprint of our institution," Lincoln Athletic Director Betty Kemmna said. "As a Historically Black College or University, it was our desire to have the opportunity to play other HBCU institutions that share our same mission. This alliance will enable us to schedule a few non-conference games within our schedule and it allows us to renew former rivalries with other HBCU's and still play for a conference championship."
Page 2 of 2 - "We are very excited about this arrangement," Southwest Baptist Athletics Director Mike Pitts said. "It's a win-win-win for the MIAA, the GLVC and SBU. Our fans are used to seeing us play the football schools of the GLVC. We are looking forward to great competition and good rivalries in football with the GLVC colleges and universities, while maintaining full membership in the MIAA with all other sports. We appreciate, very, very much - the leadership of Commissioners Boerigter and Naumovich over the last few weeks that turned this great idea into reality."
The MIAA is expected to release its 2014 schedule by week's end, while the GLVC will announce its new-look schedule at a later date.
For more on the MIAA, log on to themiaa.com or follow them on Twitter at @TheMIAA. For more on the GLVC, log on to GLVCsports.com or follow them on Twitter at @GLVCsports