RIO GRANDE, Ohio – The University of Rio Grande officially became a member of the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC) on Tuesday after spending the past five seasons as part of the Mid-South Conference.
“After evaluating our time in the Mid-South Conference, we came to the conclusion that the future of the athletic department at Rio Grande fits better with the mission and the goals of the institutions within the KIAC,” said Jeff Lanham, Rio Grande’s Director of Athletics. “In the end, that’s what you want out of the conference you’re aligned with. You want things to fit with what you’ve got going at your institution and we believe that the KIAC definitely works better for us.”
With the addition of Rio Grande, the KIAC is now comprised of 11 schools across four states. Alice Lloyd College, Asbury University, Brescia University and Midway College are the conference members located in Kentucky, while other members include Carlow University and Point Park University (both located in Pittsburgh, Pa.), Indiana University-East, Indiana University-Southeast, Indiana University-Kokomo and Cincinnati Christian University.
The KIAC currently sponsors championships in 15 different sports – Baseball, Men’s and Women’s Basketball (NAIA Division II), Men’s and Women’s Cross Country, Men’s and Women’s Golf, Men’s and Women’s Soccer, Softball, Men’s and Women’s Tennis, Men’s and Women’s Track & Field and Volleyball.
Rio Grande’s entrance into the KIAC actually marks its return to the league. The school was a member of the nearly 100-year-old conference until it joined the Mid-Ohio Conference in 1971. The MOC morphed into the now-defunct America Mideast Conference in 1998 and Rio remained a member until joining the Mid-South Conference in the fall of 2009.
“When we first visited the Mid-South about becoming a part of their league, we knew the level of competition was going to be very strong and that proved to be true,” said Lanham. “The Mid-South was good to us, though, in the fact that they allowed us to continue to have the opportunity to be a part of a conference and to compete. They were there for us at a time in our history when it looked like we didn’t have any place to go. They took us in and we appreciate it, but we reached a point where we had to re-evaluate and we’ve decided to move in another direction.”
KIAC Commissioner Bill Melton welcomed the addition of Rio, which was approved by a unanimous vote of the league’s presidents.
“I remember when Rio was a member of the KIAC in the 1960’s,” Melton said. “I played baseball at Berea College during that time and competed against Rio teams. It is good to have them back in the KIAC.”