Houghton to join Empire 8, D-III

Houghton MBB
Houghton was 6-21 in men's basketball this past season, 10-16 in women's basketball.
Houghton athletics photo 

Houghton will become a member of the Empire 8 beginning in 2012-13. The NAIA institution is in the process of applying for NCAA Division III membership. If accepted, there will be one year of exploratory membership followed by four years of provisional membership before becoming an active Division III member.

Houghton is 70 miles southwest of Rochester, N.Y., and has 1,243 full-time undergraduates, according to the last figures filed with the U.S. Department of Education.

“Houghton College is delighted to be joining the Empire 8,” said Houghton president Shirley Mullen. “We are fortunate to have in our geographic area an athletic conference that shares so fully our commitment to athletics as an integral aspect of a high-quality undergraduate education. Like the Empire 8, we believe that excellence in academics and excellence in athletics can go hand in hand.”

The Highlanders will compete in the conference in 2012-13, but will not be eligible for conference championships until they become an active NCAA Division III member. Houghton will compete in Empire 8 play in each sport it sponsors: baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, men’s and women’s track and field, and volleyball.

The school will be fielding its first baseball and softball teams in the spring of 2012.

“The Empire 8 is pleased to welcome Houghton College to our ranks,” said Empire 8 president Thomas Meier, president at Elmira. “Houghton has a rich history and a culture that values character. We believe Houghton will be a great addition to a very strong conference.”  

The Highlanders have earned a reputation for achievements in the arena of play, with more than 40 appearances in NAIA national tournaments, and in the classroom. In 2006-07, the NAIA began designating “Scholar Teams,” whose student-athletes achieved a combined grade point average of 3.0. Last year alone, 10 Houghton teams made the list.

“As a strong academic institution that is also committed to the educational values athletics contributes to higher education, Houghton College is a very welcomed addition to the Empire 8,” said Empire 8 commissioner Chuck Mitrano. “They have great leadership on every level and we look forward to a long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationship.”

The Empire 8 consists of full-time members Alfred, Elmira, Hartwick, Ithaca, Nazareth, Rochester Institute of Technology, St. John Fisher, Stevens and Utica. RIT will join the Liberty league in the fall of 2011.