The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Local News

May 18, 2011

Ashford voted out of conference

CLINTON — Ashford Director of Athletics Meg Schebler said she was caught by surprise Tuesday when the presidents of the Midwest Collegiate Conference voted to remove Ashford and Waldorf from membership in the league.

“We can’t make any comments,” Schebler said of the decision.

Ray Shovlain, a Clinton native who is the athletic director at St. Ambrose and the vice president of the MCC, said, to his knowledge, the vote was 7-2. The conference constitution says a two-thirds vote is required to remove a school.

“My understanding is there is a number of presidents who have philosophical difference between for-profits and not-for-profit (schools),” Shovlain said. “The athletic part is just a small part of it.”

There are athletic concerns, as well, such as financial aid and scholarship packages that can be offered. Shovlain said the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, to which the member schools of the MCC belong, has national rules on financial aid but that because of institutional controls, many schools, such as St. Ambrose, offer less than the NAIA allows.

Attempts to find more specifics on the presidents’ decision were unsuccessful. Kent Henning, president of Grand View University and president of the Midwest Collegiate Conference, was at an off-campus meeting this morning and unavailable for comment. Conference Commission Rick Sanders also was unavailable and did not return phone messages.

Ashford, a founding member of the then-Midwest Catholic Conference in 1986, and Waldorf can remain in the conference for one more year. Shovlain said the MCC probably would seek at least one new member to bring its total to at least eight schools.

Ashford offers eight men’s sports and nine women’s sports. In the current Commissioners Cup standings, which awards points based on the 17 sports offered by the conference, Ashford ranks fourth and Waldorf is last.

What the future holds for the Ashford athletic program is uncertain for now.

“We’re just going to be investigating our options,” Schebler said. “There definitely are options.”

Schebler, who said the school was in good standing as far as the NAIA was concerned, offered no specifics about what those options are, however.

Shovlain said a number of NAIA conferences in the Midwest were in a state of flux, either because of conference realignment or because of schools shifting to the National Collegiate Athletic Conference.

Ashford and St. Ambrose have developed a strong rivalry, and Shovlain said he hoped the schools still would compete against one another.

“Hopefully, we can continue to play when feasible,” he said.

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