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MIAA loses Southwest Baptist to Great Lakes Valley

UNK senior Ty Danielson (left) makes a three-pointer against Southwest Baptist, Feb. 27, 2018 (KHGI)

The Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) announced on Thursday that Southwest Baptist University has been admitted to the Conference for full-time membership, following a unanimous vote of approval by the GLVC Council of Presidents on May 23.

"The GLVC Council of Presidents is pleased to unanimously endorse the recommendation from the league's faculty athletic representatives to accept Southwest Baptist University as our next member," said Dr. Rob Manuel, University of Indianapolis President and Chair of the GLVC Council of Presidents. "Throughout the evaluation process, there was overwhelming consensus from our institutional representatives that Southwest Baptist will be an outstanding addition to the GLVC."

Southwest Baptist will officially become a GLVC member upon receipt of initiation fees, entitling the institution to voting privileges, and will begin regular season competition and be eligible for GLVC Championships in 2019-20.

"The Great Lakes Valley Conference is pleased to welcome Southwest Baptist University to our family," said GLVC Commissioner Jim Naumovich. "In Southwest Baptist, we have found a like-minded institution within our geographic footprint that we feel will be a wonderful addition to the GLVC."

“We are disappointed to see Southwest Baptist leave the MIAA. They have been an outstanding representative of our conference since they joined the MIAA in 1986,” stated MIAA Commissioner Mike Racy. “We appreciate that SBU leadership has kept the conference informed about their membership study this past year, and we support SBU’s efforts to do what they believe is best for their programs and student-athletes. We wish them well and much success in the GLVC.”

Last January, the MIAA CEO Council appointed two task forces to take a strategic look at important issues facing the MIAA. One task force is working on football-related issues, including a study of various scheduling models to help strengthen MIAA football programs. The other task force is exploring membership issues, including the development of tools to help communicate the mission, alignment and value of the MIAA for member institutions and communities. “In an ever-changing climate in college athletics, the MIAA is committed to being proactive, resourceful and innovative in order to maintain our reputation as one of the most successful conferences in the NCAA,” Racy added.

Founded in 1878, Southwest Baptist University is a private, four-year comprehensive evangelical Christian university. Its main campus, which boasts 1,392 students of the school's 2,822 total undergraduate enrollment, is located in Bolivar, Missouri, just 25 miles north of Springfield, Missouri, and GLVC member Drury University.

Southwest Baptist has been competing in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) since 1986. The Bearcats have captured 25 MIAA titles in the sports of men's tennis (14), women's tennis (5), men's basketball (4), men's cross country (1), and women's cross country (1).

Since 2014, Southwest Baptist has played football as an associate member of the GLVC under the Strategic Conference Football Scheduling Alliance formed by the GLVC and MIAA in 2013. The Bearcats shared the GLVC Championship with Truman State in 2016, another former MIAA member.

The Bearcats currently sponsor 18 of the GLVC's 22 sports, including all seven of the league's core sports: baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's soccer, softball, and volleyball. SBU will also compete in men's and women's cross country, football, men's and women's golf, men's and women's tennis, and men's and women's indoor and outdoor track and field. Additionally, the Bearcats sponsor a men's and women's program in eSports, as well as women's cheer and STUNT, which begins in 2018-19.

"We are very, very honored to be invited into the GLVC," said SBU Director of Athletics Mike Pitts. "Because of our unique scheduling arrangement in football, we've had the privilege of working closely with the GLVC for a few years. I will certainly miss so many close personal friends and colleagues in the MIAA. Both conferences are so professional and put the student-athletes first. We are grateful for this opportunity and look forward to all of our sports being part of the GLVC."

The GLVC is currently one of the largest NCAA Division II conferences in the country, featuring 15 schools and 22 sports. The conference was established in 1978 and made up of six schools in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio, but has moved westward to include four Illinois schools, seven Missouri schools and one school from Wisconsin among its membership. The current members of the GLVC are: Bellarmine University (Louisville, Ky.), Drury University (Springfield, Mo.), University of Illinois Springfield (Springfield, Ill.), University of Indianapolis (Indianapolis, Ind.), Lewis University (Romeoville, Ill.), Maryville University (St. Louis, Mo.), McKendree University (Lebanon, Ill.), Missouri University of Science & Technology (Rolla, Mo.), University of Missouri-St. Louis (St. Louis, Mo.), Quincy University (Quincy, Ill.), Rockhurst University (Kansas City, Mo.), University of Southern Indiana (Evansville, Ind.), Truman State University (Kirksville, Mo.), University of Wisconsin-Parkside (Kenosha, Wis.) and William Jewell College (Liberty, Mo).

The GLVC last expanded in 2012 with the addition of Truman State as its 16th member. The league dropped to 15 member institutions last year when charter member Saint Joseph's College suspended operations. On June 30, 2018, UW-Parkside will formerly resign from the GLVC to join the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC).

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