|St. Norbert's departure from the Midwest Conference will leave the league with 11 football programs -- more than enough for an automatic bid, but not enough to maintain its two-division structure and have an exempt championship game.
Photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com
St. Norbert College's intercollegiate athletics program will join the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference, the conference announced today. The Green Knights will compete in the NACC beginning in the 2020-21 school year.
"Extensive study of our athletic department and the quality of academic experience for our student-athletes led us to explore Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference membership," St. Norbert president Brian Bruess said. "Our student-athletes will be spending significantly less time away from campus allowing for a more integrated student experience."
"St. Norbert College is a fine academic institution with a strong record of athletic success and a deep commitment to student achievement," said Scott Flanagan, Edgewood College president and president of the NACC's Executive Committee. "Those reasons, along with their location near our current geographical area, make St. Norbert an exceptional fit for the NACC. We are excited to welcome St. Norbert to the conference."
The NACC, of which St. Norbert was already an affiliate member for men's volleyball, consists of 13 schools in Wisconsin and Illinois. Wisconsin members include Alverno, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Wisconsin Lutheran, Concordia (Wis.), Edgewood, Lakeland and Marian. Illinois members include Concordia-Chicago, Dominican, Aurora, Benedictine, Illinois Tech and Rockford. St. Norbert is already partners in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association with MSOE, Concordia (Wis.), Marian and Aurora.
St. Norbert is located in DePere, Wisconsin, just outside Green Bay.
"We are very pleased to have St. Norbert College join the NACC as our 14th full-time member," said NACC commissioner G. Steven Larson. "St. Norbert brings a commitment to both academics and athletics that mirrors the core values of the NACC. They will be a strong partner as we continue to grow into our expanded geographic footprint."
"A vibrant and competitive program will enhance our student-athletes' overall experience," St. Norbert athletic director Tim Bald said. "With significantly less travel, our student-athletes will have more occasions to engage with our faculty and the community of St. Norbert College."
The move to the NACC will end membership in the Midwest Conference, which has nine other members located in Wisconsin (Lawrence University, Ripon College and Beloit College), Illinois (Lake Forest College, Knox College, Monmouth College and Illinois College) and Iowa (Cornell College and Grinnell College). The Green Knights won 121 Midwest Conference championships in 14 different sports while appearing in 66 NCAA Division III Tournaments after joining the league full-time in 1983. St. Norbert also won 19 Midwest Conference All-Sports Trophies - 15 for women and four for men - despite not fielding men's and women's swimming until 2018-19.
"We will miss our many rivalries and relationships built over nearly four decades as a Midwest Conference member and aim to maintain many as non-conference competition in the future," Bruess said. "We are looking forward to growing our existing relationships with NACC members."
"Our reduced travel in a smaller geographic footprint will be less strenuous on our student-athletes, coaching staff and support staff," Bald said. "We are still aligned with institutions of similar academic excellence and missions, while easing demands on schedules and budgets."
St. Norbert will reacquaint itself with long-running series against NACC schools dating prior to World War II. The Green Knights began men's basketball series with Concordia (Wis.) in 1924-25, with Lakeland in 1932-33 and with MSOE in 1933-34.
St. Norbert has a 23-sport athletics program, with 19 of those competing in every championship the NACC sponsors. Men's NACC champions are sponsored in baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, tennis, track and field (indoor and outdoor) and volleyball. Women's NACC champions are sponsored in basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track and field (indoor and outdoor) and volleyball.