Wednesday, October 08, 2008

UIS announces move to NCAA Division II

By Courtney Westlake

It was a great day to be a Prairie Star on Wednesday afternoon, October 8, as UIS announced that it will be joining the Great Lakes Valley Conference for the 2009-2010 academic year after receiving an invitation into the conference.

"I'm pleased to announce that the GLVC Council of Presidents by a unanimous vote of 13-0 voted to extend membership invitations to the University of Illinois at Springfield and to Maryville University in St. Louis to bring our membership to 15," said Jim Naumovich, GLVC commissioner. "We very much look forward to welcoming our two new additions to conference competition next year."

The conference's expansion to 15 teams is the largest membership in its 30-year history, with five teams in each of three divisions. UIS will join Quincy, Lewis, St. Joseph’s (Ind.) and Wisconsin-Parkside in the new Central Division.

The Prairie Stars are currently part of the American Midwest Conference. UIS will complete its move to NCAA Division II next academic year.

"Today is one of the most memorable days for the University of Illinois at Springfield and its athletic department. I'm very excited and extremely pleased," said Dr. Rodger Jehlicka, athletic director at UIS. "Today it's a great day to be a Prairie Star."

The university has been in discussion about joining the Great Lakes Valley Conference for several years.

"One of the reasons I've been excited about the GLVC from the very beginning is because of the kinds of universities that are in the conference, and of course, it's such a highly-regarded conference in terms of athletic competition," said UIS Chancellor Richard Ringeisen.

Ringeisen called the move a "very exciting moment for UIS" and said it verifies the positive changes and the achievements of the athletic program over the past few years.

"Among other things, we've moved from five athletic teams to 10, heading to 11," he said. "And at the same time, the university itself has been changing in ways that are all positive."

The Great Lakes Valley Conference is now the second largest conference in Division II in the country, Naumovich said. The addition of UIS into the conference is a "great fit," he said.

"UIS brings a very outstanding academic program, a solid athletic program and the geographic proximity and the current footprint of the GLVC were all positive factors in deciding to extend an invitation," he said. "We look forward to including the Prairie Stars in our schedule for next year."

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