Malone University will leave the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference to join the Great Midwest Athletic Conference beginning next season.
According to the Canton (Ohio) Repository, Malone, which has been a member of the GLIAC since transitioning from the NAIA to Division II in 2011, will begin competition in the G-MAC in the fall of 2016.
“We really looked at the relationship you have with the opponents and schools in your league,” Malone Athletic Director Charlie Grimes said. “They are your friends and colleagues. The G-MAC really has some schools that we feel a strong affinity toward and have a lot more in common with.”
Ohio-based members of the G-MAC include Cedarville, located east of Dayton, and Ursuline, a women’s college located in Pepper Pike, east of Cleveland along the Outerbelt Freeway (I-271). Cedarville and Ursuline were rivals of Malone when the three schools were members of the NAIA’s American Mideast Conference.
“This move aligns Malone with institutions with similar missions, academic profiles, enrollments, and athletic offerings,” said Malone president David King. “In making this move, we reaffirm our commitment to offering our student-athletes experiences that reflect the best of NCAA Division II while celebrating our rich athletic history made possible by our alumni.”
“The size of the institutions, they’re more moderately enrolled like we are,” Grimes added. “They’re private. That’s a big part of this as we looked at the dynamics of the GLIAC and the mixture of publics and privates.”
Other current members of the G-MAC include West Virginia-based members Alderson Broaddus, Davis & Elkins, Ohio Valley and Salem International, Kentucky Wesleyan (Owensboro) and Trevecca Nazarene, located in Nashville, Tenn.
“The G-MAC is proud to welcome Malone as its’ newest member,” said G-MAC Commissioner Tom Daeger. “The Conference will benefit tremendously from the addition of another institution that embraces athletics as a valued aspect of its overall institutional mission. Malone is committed to NCAA Division II and maintains a profile that aligns seamlessly with fellow G-MAC members.”
Another factor, according to the Repository, was the G-MAC not scheduling contests on Sundays.
“We have a desire to not play on Sundays,” Grimes said. “This conference protects that day as leaving things be and letting us rest.”
Central State University, located in suburban Dayton, will leave the G-MAC for the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in all sports this fall, leaving the league’s membership comprising exclusively of private institutions.
“As a conference focusing on private institutions with a similar value orientation and emphasizing the student-athlete, Malone University is an excellent fit for us and will add to our growing conference,” said Ursuline College president Diana Stano, chair of the G-MAC Presidents Council. “The G-MAC is committed to building on its strong foundation of institutions and Malone will assist the league in taking yet another step in achieving expansion goals. Malone will be a terrific partner in the league’s proactive efforts to provide a quality experience for all student-athletes.”
Malone’s long-time Canton rival, Walsh, will remain in the GLIAC. While Grimes lamented the loss of a cross-town rival in the same league, he remained optimistic about the continuation of the Malone-Walsh rivalry.
“We’re really excited about the maintenance of that rivalry as part of our nonconference schedule each year,” Grimes said. “We both have been committed to make sure this thing can continue. The community really gets behind it.”
Grimes added the schools will continue to compete for the Dick Gallagher Trophy in football and the Mayors’ Cup trophy in basketball. Both schools play their home games at Faucett Stadium, a facility on the grounds of the Pro Football Hall of Fame owned by the Canton City School District.
Malone sponsors 18 sports, including the G-MAC core sports of men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, softball and volleyball. Malone also sponsors three sports not contested by the G-MAC – swimming (men’s and women’s) and football. While Malone will seek affiliate membership in a different conference for the swim teams, they are tentatively set to compete as a D2 independent in Super Region 4 in 2016.
“We have the opportunity to play the [Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference] schools, the Mountain East schools in West Virginia, and the GLIAC may also have some open weeks we fit into. We’re going to have a lot more flexibility in our scheduling.”