As the 2015-16 NIAC regular season and post-season tournament are in the books, off season focus has quickly turned towards the long term plan for conference sustainability and expansion. Once an eight team conference, the NIAC has seen a lot of change over the years. With college closures, dropping of athletic programs and program departures to other conferences/affiliations, the conference has often faced an annual state of evolution.
While the competitive balance has remained strong within the conference, the need for additional colleges that have both men’s and women’s programs has been a primary focus of attention for Dan Hovestol, NIAC President for the past 15 years.
“While our sights have been focused on re-establishing an eight team conference as in years past, I believe there’s potential for even further growth for the Northern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. With the additions of Cankdeska Cikana Community College and Canadian Mennonite University in 2016-17, we feel we’re well on our way to making the eight team conference a reality.”
Hovestol continued, “That said, we’ve now begun to explore the idea of future expansion towards a bigger and more robust conference. Preliminary conversations have been conducted with potential college additions and the process of geographical and “good fit” analysis are underway. Regardless of what happens with expansion efforts, it’s truly an exciting “new day” for our conference. More league teams will create a more competitive regular season schedule and will create a larger and more exciting bracket for our post season tournaments. While schedule expansion and greater visibility for our colleges is beneficial for all of our programs, we feel being progressive in future plans ultimately best serves the people we place at the forefront of our attention; our student athletes.”
Stay connected to the NIAC website for future conference news and notes. It should be exciting to see how things shake out for the NIAC conference in the years ahead!