Richardson, Texas-July 1 begins another
for the American Southwest Conference with membership changes
highlighting the end of 2013-14 and start of the 2014-15 year for
the NCAA Division III conference.
"July 1 opens the 19th year for the American Southwest Conference, a year that will be marked with the return of an old friend – McMurry University – and preparation for a new member – Belhaven University," said Amy Carlton, commissioner of the American Southwest Conference. "Various administrative and coaching committees have been and will continue working to integrate the two institutions, their students, coaches and staffs into the ASC for a smooth transition to the conference and NCAA Division III."
Two founding American Southwest Conference institutions will cross paths June 30 to July 1 as Mississippi College closes its ASC membership en route to NCAA Division II affiliation and McMurry rejoins the ASC after a two-year stint with NCAA Division II and the Heartland Conference. Belhaven University in Jackson, Miss., is scheduled to join the ASC on July 1, 2015. The ASC membership list for 2014-15 includes 12 full-time members and one affiliate member in women's golf (University of California, Santa Cruz).
Mississippi College officially concludes its membership in the ASC at the close of business on Monday (June 30), moving to the Gulf South Conference as it continues transition to NCAA Division II affiliation. MC, one of the seven members of the ASC when it formed May 23, 1996, posted 31 conference tournament championships over its 18 seasons in the league, including nine women's cross country, seven men's cross country and six men's basketball championships. In regular-season play, the Choctaws earned 31 ASC East Division titles and a pair of ASC regular-season championships. Seven Mississippi College student-athletes were selected the Distinguished Scholar-Athlete in their sport while six students were voted the ASC Fred Jacoby Sportsmanship Athlete of the Year. Coaches and administrators have served on both conference and NCAA Division III sport and administrative committees throughout the years.
"The American Southwest Conference appreciates the many contributions Mississippi College made to the league, in the classroom, the playing fields and meeting rooms over the past 18-plus years," Carlton said. "ASC members and individuals have enjoyed professional and personal relationships with the Mississippi College coaching and administrative staff and we extend best wishes as the college rejoins the Gulf South Conference and NCAA Division II."
McMurry University, also a founding member of the American Southwest Conference, officially rejoins the Conference on July 1 and begins assimilation into ASC activities during the 2014-15 year with full integration into all conference schedules for the 2015-16 seasons.
McMurry withdrew from the ASC on June 30, 2012 as part of its move to NCAA Division II. In late January 2014, President Dr. Sandra S. Harper announced that the University would no longer seek Division II membership and would return to Division III classification, a move approved by the Division III Membership Committee in the spring. McMurry begins the four-year Division III reclassification program on September 1.
"Conference members welcome McMurry University back to the league and look forward to working with the administration, coaches and students during the Division III membership process," Carlton said. "President Harper, Faculty Athletics Representative Joel Brandt and Director of Athletics Sam Ferguson are eager to move forward with both Division III and the ASC, and our members stand ready to make their return to our group a positive one."
Under ASC bylaws, McMurry athletic teams will be in a scheduling alliance for team sports (results do not count toward ASC standings) until all athletically-related aid is removed from student financial aid packages at which point contests count in league standings and teams become eligible for regular-season titles only. Once McMurry is granted active Division III membership, team sports are able to qualify for ASC Championship Tournament play and the institution counts toward the conference's NCAA Division III automatic qualification numbers.
During its previous 16 years as an ASC member, McMurry won two NCAA Division III national titles (men's track and field 2008, '12), and collected 41 ASC conference championships. As the institution transitions to active Division III affiliation over the next four years, McMurry will continue its national affiliation with the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) where it won the 2012 national title in volleyball and was national runner-up in men's tennis in 2014.
Belhaven University is slated to begin membership with the American Southwest Conference on July 1, 2015 contingent upon successful selection to the four-year NCAA Division III provisional membership program in June 2015. The 2014-15 academic year will be Belhaven's final year of NAIA membership and competition in the Southern States Athletic Conference and the Mid-South Conference (football). The Blazers have posted three NAIA national titles, two in men's soccer (1992, 2012) and one in men's tennis (1983) and have earned conference championships and made NAIA national tournament appearances in seven different sports. Belhaven sponsors 15 intercollegiate athletics programs, eight men's and seven women's.
Administrative Committee Leadership
The membership of the conference Executive Committee of the Council of Presidents rotates on July 1 with Dr. Bill Ellis, president of Howard Payne University, assuming the chairmanship. He is joined by vice chair Dr. David E. Daniel, president of the University of Texas at Dallas, and immediate past chair Dr. Rod Mabry, president of the University of Texas at Tyler..
In addition to Executive Committee changes, the chair and vice chairs of three administrative groups within the conference also rotate.
Chuck Boland, professor of accounting at Howard Payne, will serve as chair of the ASC Faculty Athletics Representatives with Dr. Kurt Beron, professor of economics and public policy at UT Dallas, moving into the vice chair position. The ASC Directors of Athletics will be led by chair Mike Jones, athletic director at Howard Payne, and vice chair Bill Petitt, UT Dallas athletic director. The Senior Woman Administrators leadership includes chair Meia Daniels, SWA and women's basketball head coach at Howard Payne, and vice chair Angela Marin, assistant athletic director and SWA at UT Dallas.
Championship Format Changes
ASC men's and women's championship tournaments in soccer and basketball each feature new game schedule formats in 2014-15.
The six-team ASC Men's and Women's Soccer Championship Tournaments move from a Thursday-Friday-Sunday schedule to matches on Thursday-Saturday-Sunday. Thursday's quarterfinals schedule include start times for lighted (5:00/8:00 p.m.) and non-lighted (11:00 a.m./2:00 p.m.) facilities. Tournament dates for 2014 are November 6, 8 and 9 at the No. 1 men's and women's seeds. Start time for the two Saturday semifinal matches are 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. with the Sunday championship match at 1:00 p.m.
ASC Men's and Women's Basketball Championship Tournaments shift game days starting with the 2015 tournaments. Four quarterfinal games are scheduled on Thursday (12:00, 2:30, 5:00, 7:30 p.m.), two semifinal games on Friday (5:00, 7:30 p.m.) and the title game on Saturday (4:00 p.m.). The 2015 conference basketball tournaments are scheduled February 26-27-28, 2015 and held at the No. 1 men's and women's seeds.
November 1, 2014 / Men's and Women's Cross Country at Texas-Tyler
November 6-8, 2014 / Volleyball at No. 1 seed
November 6, 8-9, 2014 / Men's Soccer at No. 1 seed
November 6, 8-9, 2014 / Women's Soccer at No. 1 seed
February 26-28, 2015 / Men's Basketball at No. 1 seed
February 26-28, 2015 / Women's Basketball at No. 1 seed
April 20-21, 2015 / Men's and Women's Golf at Squaw Valley Golf Course (Glen Rose, Texas)
April 24-25, 2015 / Men's and Women's Track and Field at Hardin-Simmons
April 24-26, 2015 / Men's and Women's Tennis at Texas-Tyler
April 29-30, May 1-3, 2015 / Softball at No. 1 seed
May 6-9, 2015 / Baseball at TBD