RICHARDSON, Texas --- McMurry University will be returning to its NCAA Division III athletics roots, as American Southwest Conference (ASC) officials announced today the forthcoming return of the War Hawks’ athletics program to the league. McM was one of the eight founding member of the ASC in May 1996.
The announcement was made by Dr. Rod Mabry, president of the University of Texas at Tyler and chair of the ASC Council of Presidents. The ASC also announced the addition of Belhaven University (Miss.) to its roster of member schools, which will raise the American Southwest Conference membership to 13 institutions.
The exact ASC admittance date for each institution is contingent upon their date of successful admittance by the NCAA into the required Division III membership program.
"The American Southwest Conference presidents are pleased to welcome both McMurry University and Belhaven University to our conference membership," said Mabry. "The pending membership expansion will strengthen our conference in a number of ways and will benefit their student-athletes as well as current ASC student-athletes with improved conference scheduling opportunities. We look forward to renewing and initiating spirited athletic competition and rivalries with both institutions."
McMurry and Belhaven each support athletics programs that fit with those sponsored by the American Southwest Conference, including sports that will bolster overall ASC sponsorship numbers in men's and women's golf, football, and men's and women's track and field. Postseason championship opportunities will be enhanced along with regular-season opportunities.
"Inclusion of McMurry and Belhaven continues the American Southwest Conference mission of providing an environment for learning, competition and cooperative efforts within our membership," said Amy Carlton, ASC commissioner. "The membership additions create an occasion for our administrators to revisit season scheduling and postseason tournament models for potential adjustments where we maximize conference scheduling, maintain in-region Division III non-conference opportunities, and reduce stress on missed class time and travel costs."
McMurry University left the conference in June 2012, seeking to reclassify to NCAA Division II. In January 2014, President Dr. Sandra S. Harper and the University's Board of Trustees announced that McMurry would withdraw from the Division II membership process. McM instead opted to remain with the NCAA III and its philosophy for the university’s athletics program.
“McMurry University is delighted to rejoin the American Southwest Conference,” stated Dr. Harper. “Commissioner Carlton and the ASC presidents have been very supportive in our effort to compete in NCAA Division III. The ASC invitation is one of the major steps in crafting our scholar-athlete program to fit with our institutional mission and centennial vision. We look forward to the competition and the camaraderie of the ASC.“
During its previous 16 years as a member of the American Southwest Conference, McMurry won two NCAA Division III national titles (men's track and field 2008, '12), and collected 41 ASC conference championships. Since leaving the ASC, McMurry athletic programs have competed in the Division II Heartland Conference and Lone Star Conference. The War Hawks compete nationally in the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA), winning the 2012 national tournament title in volleyball.
McMurry offers 19 intercollegiate athletics programs, ten men and nine women, including baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, football, men's and women's golf, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's swimming and diving, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's track and field, and women's volleyball.
Current American Southwest Conference membership includes Concordia University Texas, East Texas Baptist University, Hardin-Simmons University, Howard Payne University, LeTourneau University, Louisiana College, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Mississippi College, University of the Ozarks, Sul Ross State University, University of Texas at Dallas and University of Texas at Tyler. The University of California, Santa Cruz is an affiliate ASC member in women's golf. Mississippi College will withdraw from the conference in June 2013 to reclassify to NCAA Division II.