Mary, Sioux Falls to join GNAC for men's soccer
Feb. 2, 2012
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - The University of Mary, which is located in Bismarck, N.D., and the University of Sioux Falls of Sioux Falls, S.D., have agreed to become affiliate members of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference in men's soccer, GNAC Commissioner Dave Haglund announced Thursday.
The two NCAA Division II universities will begin play in the GNAC and the NCAA West Region beginning this fall.
They'll join Montana State University Billings, Northwest Nazarene University (Idaho), Saint Martin's University (Wash.), Seattle Pacific University (Wash.), Simon Fraser University (B.C.) and Western Washington University bringing membership in the GNAC men's soccer conference to eight.
The eight schools will each play a 14-game home-and-home schedule. U-Mary and Sioux Falls will be immediately eligible for the conference championship and all conference awards.
"We are extremely excited to welcome the University of Mary and the University of Sioux Falls as affiliate members beginning this fall," Haglund said. "They will greatly enhance our conference offering in men's soccer while providing important additional in-region NCAA Division II contests for all eight members."
U-Mary and Sioux Falls are currently members of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, which does not sponsor men's soccer. All its other teams will continue to compete in the Northern Sun.
"The University of Mary is thrilled to join the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and be a part of such a nationally-respected organization," U-Mary athletic director Roger Thomas said.
"When looking for a home for our men's soccer team, we hoped to find a conference that shared our athletic and academic philosophies and played soccer at a very high level. We feel the GNAC is a perfect fit for the Marauders and will help us improve the visibility and provide stability for our program."
"We are extremely excited to be a member of the GNAC," said USF Athletic Director William Sanchez. "The GNAC is one of the premier NCAA DII conferences in the nation and has built a strong reputation in collegiate soccer. This is a big day for our university and our men's soccer program, as we complete our transition into the NCAA DII."
U-Mary and Sioux Falls will join a conference that has accounted for nine men's soccer national championships from current or former members.
Simon Fraser was a perennial NAIA national powerhouse winning NAIA national titles in 1976, 1982 and 1983 before joining the GNAC in 2010 and becoming the first Canadian member of the NCAA.
This past year the Clan posted an 18-0-1 record and was the No. 1 ranked NCAA Division II team in the nation in the final regular-season poll though it was ineligible for the playoffs as a provisional NCAA member.
Seattle Pacific, which hosted the NCAA West Regional playoffs last season as the No. 1 seed, has won five NCAA Division II national titles, including 1978, 1983, 1985, 1986 and 1993.
Former GNAC member Seattle University, which now competes at the Division I level, was the 2004 NCAA Division II national champion.
Both U-Mary under fifth-year head coach Dave Cook and Sioux Falls under second-year head coach Paul Bennett have previously competed against the GNAC.
Last year U-Mary played games against three of the GNAC institutions including Montana State Billings, Northwest Nazarene and Seattle Pacific, while Sioux Falls played four GNAC schools - Montana State Billings, Northwest Nazarene, Seattle Pacific and Simon Fraser.
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