M-C faces big changes

By Carl Ackerman

Several NIU women’s sports programs will find themselves in a new home for the 1992-93 season.

Although a formal announcement isn’t expected until Friday, NIU’s Athletic Director Gerald O’Dell confirmed NIU’s decision during a telephone call Thursday night.

“We’ve made our commitment (for the womens’ programs) to join the Mid-Continent Conference,” O’Dell said.

Five NIU sports will move from the North Star Conference to the M-C where the men’s basketball team currently belongs. They include: women’s basketball, volleyball, softball, tennis and swimming.

At Wednesday’s Athletic Board meeting, O’Dell said he wanted to wait for the decisions of three other schools (Northern Iowa, Western Illinois and Eastern Illinois) before committing to joining the NSC.

EIU and WIU made an official announcement Thursday that their womens’ sports programs would join the M-C.

“I feel very comfortable with Eastern and Western joining the Mid-Continent Conference,” O’Dell said.

“The addition of Eastern Illinois and Western Illinois, with their commitment to women’s athletics, will make a significant impact on the strength of the Mid-Continent conference’s womens’ programs,” said M-C Commissioner Jerry A. Ippoliti.

However, Northern Iowa announced Thursday seven of its sports will be leaving the M-C and joining the Missouri Valley Conference in the 1991-92 season.

“We are extremely pleased to accept membership in a conference with the tradition of excellence of the Missouri Valley,” said UNI Athletic Director Robert Bowlsby.

However, the absence of UNI will affect the level of competition in the M-C for NIU’s men’s basketball program.

“(UNI) is a pretty established school in the (M-C). It’s unfortunate that they’re leaving,” said NIU’s men’s basketball coach Jim Molinari. “I have confidence that the (M-C) will get the best school possible to replace (UNI).”