Malone athletics is preparing for a change in athletic conferences. This marks the final year as a member of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC). The Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC) will be the new home for pioneers beginning fall 2016.
“It was a really good move to be associated or looking at being associated with schools that are more like us,” said Charlie Grimes, director of athletics.
One of these new similarities is student enrollment. Malone has an undergraduate enrollment of around 2,000 students. Wayne State University, a GLIAC member, has about 26,000 students. It is difficult to compete with schools 10 times the size of Malone.
The new conference’s schools, including Cedarville University, Alderson Broaddus University and Ursuline College, are much closer in size to Malone. These schools also feature holistic goals more aligned with Malone’s mission.
“The real essence of the G-MAC is that it is really highly committed to an education-based sport experience for the athletes,” Grimes said.
The football and swimming and diving programs will face different challenges with the switch. Swimming and diving is not included as part of the G-MAC. Malone officials are exploring alternative affiliate membership options for the team.
Football remains an “emerging” sport in the G-MAC. The football team will compete as an independent, playing non-league games in fall 2016. Fellow GLIAC schools Ohio Dominican University, Walsh University, Lake Erie College and University of Findlay will bring their football teams to the G-MAC in fall 2016, So, familiar foes will be seen at football games.
The switch is more accommodating to student-athletes in all sports.
“This decision is not about Malone being this shining light of Christian whatever,” said Grimes. “It’s really about the students.”
Malone’s four years in the GLIAC were a challenge, and junior infielder Allison Mercado said she is looking forward to the new competition.
“The GLIAC is an incredibly difficult conference,” said Mercado. “Although [Malone has] some amazing talent in every sport, I feel the G-MAC is going to be a better fit.”
The closer proximity of schools in the G-MAC is another benefit in the switch.
“I like the idea of not having to travel north to Michigan schools in the spring,” said junior pitcher Branden Carey. “I think our athletic programs will be more competitive.”
Switching conferences should allow students to have a richer student-athlete experience. Athletes will miss fewer classes for traveling. This, in turn, will better prepare students for life beyond graduation and athletics.
Erin Perko is a contributing writer for The Aviso.