Viterbo athletics joining North Star Athletic Association in 201 - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Viterbo athletics joining North Star Athletic Association in 2015

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Viterbo University is set to become the newest member of the North Star Athletic Association in 2015, the school announced Wednesday.The V-Hawks will join the conference full-time in 17 sports beginning the 2015-16 athletics season, departing from the depleting Midwest Collegiate Conference, which will soon dissolve. The announcement came at a press conference held outside of R.W. Beggs Senior Gymnasium.

"Viterbo University is excited about the opportunity to compete in the North Star Athletic Association," Viterbo University President Richard Artman said in a release. "The NSAA provides a large geographical footprint which will help with recruiting and good competition which features ranked opponents in many sports and teams that have represented the NSAA in NAIA National Tournaments the past few years."

The NSAA currently consists for six members, but Waldorf College and Bellevue University will also join the conference later this year, bringing the total to nine. Director of Athletics Barry Fried said the conference would like to expand to 10 or 12 members in the near future. 

"Sometimes it just takes one school to jump off the diving board or two and everyone else follows," Fried said. "I think within a year or two I could see us being 10, 12 members, maybe even 14 at some point with a couple divisions, maybe a north-south or an east-west division."

The North Star was the right fit for Viterbo for many reasons, Fried said. It allows Viterbo to remain a NAIA school and participate in the postseason, it's a conference of similar-sized schools with similar values, and features good competition. It also is a progressive league, with creative, outside-box-thinking, he said. Lastly, moving to the North Star should prove to be a smooth transition for the student-athletes.

"We're familiar with this league, we're familiar a lot of those schools," Fried said. "We've played them in several different sports. It's a good league, good competition, we like what the NAIA has to offer and it fits really well with the mission and value of our institution."

Viterbo is the only team from the MCC to make the move to the NSAA this year. Bellevue and Waldorf spent 2014-15 in the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference while the Warriors were associate members of the NSAA in football.

"I have been very impressed with the vision and direction of the North Star Athletic Association," Fried said. "Commissioner Anderson is a strong leader and in a short time the league has become a well-respected NAIA conference. I see nothing but growth and success for the future of the league."

Viterbo began its search just over a year ago when two other MCC schools, Grand View University and William Penn University, announced their departure from the conference to join the Heart of America Athletic Conference. 

The remaining members of the MCC decided it would be best to dissolve the league and let each school look at its options for a new conference, Fried said.

The V-Hawks looked at a variety of conferences, including the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference, the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference, the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference, the Collegiate Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin, and the North Star Athletic Association.

Fried said Viterbo created an athletics affiliation study team to determine which conference was the best fit for the school. It consisted of three coaches, staff members, and administration, and evaluated the size and number of sports offered in each conference, and the financial implications.

"We looked at a lot of different things, really put together a matrix," Fried said. "It was really probably really good for us to do that because when you're in a league, you're not really doing a self-reflection or studying it. So that was a really valuable process to go through."

The current members of the NSAA include: Dakota State University, Dickinson State University, University of Jamestown, Mayville State University, Presentation College, and Valley City State University.

You can see the whole press release from Wednesday's announcement here

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