Indiana University East is now a member of the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC). The announcement today comes days after IU East was accepted to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). IU East became an official NAIA member on Monday, October 1. Joining the KIAC is the final step in IU East’s process to launch intercollegiate athletics.
IU East women’s volleyball, men’s basketball and men’s golf teams will compete in conference play. Membership in the KIAC is retroactive to July 1. Women’s volleyball has begun competing in the conference and has a 12-1 record overall, 0-1 in the conference.
Mark Hester, IU East athletic director and men’s basketball coach, said joining the KIAC would allow the university to recruit a higher-level of student-athletes.
“Student-athletes want to compete for a conference title and national title. That’s a big benefit for us in terms of recruiting.” Hester said. “Our student-athletes are now also eligible for recognition opportunities within a conference for academic and character awards.”
IU East joins eight other colleges and universities as members in the conference including IU Southeast in New Albany, Ind.; St. Louis College of Pharmacy; Mountain State University in Beckley, W. Va; Midway College in Midway, Ky.; Brescia University in Owensboro, Ky.; Berea College in Berea, Ky.; Asbury College in Wilmore, Ky.; and Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, Ky.
Now that IU East has joined the conference, competition against other member institutions will provide the Pioneers with spirited annual rivalries especially against fellow IU regional campus, IU Southeast.
“Our rivalry against IU Southeast will develop not only because we are sister schools, but because we play two games per year and there’s now something riding on it,” Hester said. “IU Southeast is so powerful in all their sports that it forces us to step up our level of play. They are the dominant team in the KIAC in every sport.”
As a first-year member, IU East will not be eligible to play in the conference tournament in women’s volleyball and men’s basketball. The conference tournament champion receives an automatic bid to the national tournament in volleyball and basketball. However, men’s golf can compete in the conference tournament this year because it does not have an automatic bid to the national tournament.
In coming years, IU East will add various team sports as student interest and funding increase. Plans for men’s and women’s cross country and women’s golf to start in fall 2008 are underway with men’s and women’s tennis soon to follow.