Shifting GLIAC promises fresh ‘Midwest’ sports conference in 2008

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Over the summer the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) was not entirely on vacation due to the new changes it made to the conference.

On June 30, the GLIAC announced that Gannon University and Mercyhurst College would transfer to the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) after the 2007-2008 academic year.

Taking the place of the two Pennsylvania schools will be Tiffin University, which accepted a formal invitation to join the GLIAC on June 19. Both of these transactions will take effect in July of 2008.

The decision to change was not a complicated one, said Jeff Ligney, director of media relations for the GLIAC.

“The reason for the change is basically financial and geographical,” he said.

The distance between the two Pennsylvania schools and the rest of the GLIAC caused some trouble, as well.

“It’s hard for the fans of these schools to identify with Michigan and Ohio schools,” Ligney said. “It’s much easier for them to identify and make a rivalry with someone who is closer.”

These changes will have some impact on Northern Michigan’s Division-II sports. It should help with the travel budget, NMU Athletic Director Kenneth Godfrey said.

“I think if you talk to the student-athletes they’re not going to miss playing these teams too much,” Godfrey said. “I really don’t think the average fan even knows where Gannon or Mercyhurst is.”

When the changes are complete the GLIAC will have 12 total teams. The change could affect the scheduling of mainly Northern’s women’s soccer, volleyball and men’s basketball by possibly forming a round-robin type schedule in the future, Godfrey added.

“Nothing as far as the scheduling is set in stone,” Ligney said. “You can, for sure, expect more league games than in the past.”

This transition will not significantly affect Northern’s football team because they play only a 10 game schedule and not all of them are league play, Godfrey said.

“All in all we will miss playing these teams but I can see why they changed,” he said.

Godfrey said he felt that Tiffin will bring competition but added that there are pros and cons to any situation. In this situation, though, the pros may outweigh the cons.

“The gain of this school and the loss of both Gannon and Mercyhurst will make the GLIAC mainly a Midwest region, which is much more accommodating for Northern as a university,” he said.